ORISKANY, NY-- Local law enforcement agencies in the area and across the state are taking a stance against legalizing recreational marijuana.
A group of sheriffs and police officers representing six different counties spoke at the Oneida County Sheriff's Department in Oriskany on Thursday. The meeting is in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in the state by April 1.
The group said their goal is to inform the public about dangerous consequences legalizing marijuana would have on the area.
"This isn't us against the state, or us against legislators, or us against governors," said Joe Lisi, Oneida County undersheriff. "This is us against trying to protect the communities that we all serve."
Lisi and others used statistics to prove their point. Lisi quoted a survey from the Department of Transportation of Colorado. He said according to the survey, 69 percent of self-identified marijuana users admitted to driving vehicles after consuming marijuana.
"Traffic deaths involving drivers were tested positive for marijuana more than doubled between 2013 and 2017," he said. "Since recreational marijuana was legalized, marijuana related traffic deaths have increased 151 percent."
Cortland County Sheriff Mark Helms said legalizing the drug could create more problems for local hospitals too.
"We're seeing in our emergency rooms we're getting called there," he said. "In my county I can tell you in the last week we've seen it a couple times. We're going and they're saying 'well the person is saying that they're on marijuana, but I know it's got to be more than that because they're just not acting right.' It's marijuana. It's different it's not like it was 30 years ago...I'll tell you the medical field is struggling."
Cuomo has said that the drug would be available to adults 21 and older and counties and large cities would be vote on whether to ban sales or not. It is projected to bring in $300 million each year in tax revenue.