Police chiefs: Legalizing marijuana will lead to more traffic deaths

Posted: Updated:
HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON -

Some of the highest-ranking brass in Westchester County and across the state aren't happy with the governor's push to legalize marijuana in New York.

Police chiefs in Westchester and around the state say legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, as the governor wants to do in his 2019 budget, will significantly increase the number of traffic deaths due to driving while impaired.

They point to statistics in Colorado and other states that shows as much as a 66 percent bump in traffic fatalities after pot became legal there. Police say they are also concerned about youths getting easier access to the drug.

"Years ago, I think people thought they might be able to drive under the influence of marijuana because it wasn't as powerful,” says Mount Pleasant Police Chief Paul Oliva. “But now, with the high levels of THC, we're seeing the impairment factor is a lot higher. And currently there is no roadside test to determine how high someone is on marijuana."

Politicians who support the governor's push to legalize pot say it will help reduce the number of unnecessary convictions people face, especially in minority communities. They also point to the potential tax revenue that could be gained from its legalization.

Lawmakers need to decide whether legal marijuana is in the budget by no later than March 31.

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