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Opponents Urge New York Lawmakers To Vote No On Legal Pot

Steven Senne

Opponents of legalizing marijuana in New York made a last minute pitch to derail an agreement reached between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to allow the sale of the drug to adults for recreational purposes.

The school officials and law enforcement groups say legalizing cannabis will lead to more underaged teens and children using the drug, and could also cause more traffic accidents and potentially deaths.

Kyle Belokopitsky, executive director of the New York State PTA, has a son in 6th grade. She said opponents are talking to lawmakers to try to convince them to vote no when the bill comes to the floor as early as Tuesday afternoon.

“I say to our legislators ‘if you vote yes on this legislation, you are voting to harm my child,’” Belokopitsky said.

Patrick Phelan, with the Police Chief’s association, said there is no reliable roadside test for marijuana impairment, and no agreed upon scientific standard for measuring intoxication from cannabis. He predicts there will be more traffic accidents causing injuries and fatalities.

“I know that people are going to get in traffic crashes and they are going to die, and that’s what I am legitimately concerned about,” Phelan said. “I’m not just some old guy railing against the legalization of marijuana.”

They said if they are not successful, they will try to get the law repealed, and will work with local governments to try to pass a referendum to allow municipalities to opt out of the state’s legalization laws.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.