No recreational pot law gives local officials a breather

HUDSON–Last year Columbia County had 275 arrests for impaired driving, in 25 of these arrests the impairing influence was drugs. “I expect that number will increase dramatically when marijuana is legal,” Reginald Crowley, Stop DWI New York coordinator for Columbia County, told the County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee at its meeting last month.

A measure proposing the legalization of recreational marijuana had been part of Governor Cuomo’s 2019-20 state budget but was not in the final spending plan adopted at the beginning of April.

At present no marijuana test indicates whether a person has used it recently enough for their driving to be impaired. But Mr. Crowley reported recently attending a conference where a speaker from Colorado said that since marijuana became legal in that state, serious injuries and fatalities from vehicular accidents have gone up 140%.

Supervisor Jeffrey Nayer (I-Copake) mused, “What will be the effect of legalizing marijuana on our anti-drug education? How do we teach kids not to use drugs, when at home their parents smoke marijuana?”

Supervisor Robert Beury (R-Germantown) spoke of knowing a man from outside of Colorado who got a job in Colorado that required passing a drug test, because nobody who already lived in Colorado had passed the test.

On another matter, Matt Murell (R-Stockport), chairman of the Board of Supervisors and a member of the committee, said, “I heard that Greene County pulled its inmates from our jail and shipped them to Albany County.”

“We might get them back,” said County Sheriff David Bartlett.

Also at the meeting Sheriff Bartlett reported that the county has had “only two hate crimes. We’re very fortunate. We really have a melting pot of great people, a diverse population. We could have big problems, and we don’t. We’re really a nice place.”

“The Board of Supervisors is very concerned with any crime—hate or not,” added Mr. Nayer.

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