NYS Health Dept. recommends legalizing recreational marijuana

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The New York state Health Department released a 74-page report that recommends the legalization of recreational marijuana.

The department concluded that the benefits of legalization outweigh potential risks. The report found that states with regulated marijuana programs have lower rates of opioid deaths than other states. It also believes legalization would lead to better consumer protection and stricter regulations. From a fiscal standpoint, the report estimates the state would take in between $248 million and $677 million in annual tax revenue.

Addiction specialist Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds is not sold on the idea.

“States that have legalized recreational marijuana typically see a higher increase in teenage drug treatment admissions, emergency room admissions among infants who ingest marijuana, fatal car crashes, and so we have got to have an equal conversation about what the tax revenue looks like but also what it costs to clean up the mess,” said Reynolds.

Teri Kroll lost her 23-year-old son Timothy to an opioid overdose in 2009. She is livid the state Health Department is recommending the legalization of recreational marijuana.

"This is unbelievably horrific,” said Kroll.

Others who spoke to News 12 saw an upside to legalization.

“If we don't do anything about it, we are letting the money fall into drug dealers’ hands and the black market, when we really I think can be switching that over and legalizing businesses and having more workers go out and kind of do the work for it,” said one viewer.

The report is now on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk. The state Legislature would have to approve any law legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

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