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Opinion

June 25, 2014

In Our Opinion: Medical pot bill isn't enough

“Disillusioned and shocked” is how one area man described his reaction to New York state’s medical marijuana bill. 

The bill limits marijuana use to only 10 diseases, and forbids patients from smoking the drug unless a vaporizer is used. Pot can’t be sold in plant form, and only five distributors will be chosen for the entire state. 

“I really deserve better than being a criminal for doing what’s best for my health,” Bruce Dunn of Butternuts told The Daily Star. 

We join Dunn in his disillusionment, but sadly, we’re not shocked. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made it clear a few days before the end of the legislative session that he was backing away from the whole idea of medical marijuana. 

Cuomo drew criticism from medical marijuana proponents for his last-minute objections to the agreement that had been crafted by the state Legislature. 

What’s frustrating is that New York is still quibbling over what are, really, minor details such as this, when states such as Colorado and Washington have cut through all the noise and simply legalized marijuana for recreational use. 

It is increasingly difficult to give a rational explanation for why alcohol is legal and marijuana isn’t. Both marijuana and alcohol can have negative health impacts on long-term users. Both impair motor functions and cognitive abilities for people who are under the influence. Both can engender some level of dependence, although this varies from person to person. Both are depressants that can exacerbate existing mental illnesses or mood disorders. 

But as one 2013 article succinctly put it, “Drivers under the influence of marijuana drive much better than those who have been drinking, potheads are less volatile in their social interactions and alcohol’s health consequences are much worse.” This may be a generalization, but there is a basic truth to it. 

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