Medina village officials, police chief oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 March 2021 at 8:48 am

MEDINA – The Medina Village Board and Police Chief Chad Kenward agreed to send a letter to the State Legislature opposing the push to legalize recreational marijuana.

Kenward and the board discussed the issue last week. The State Legislature is expected to vote today to legalize recreational marijuana use.

The police chief is concerned there will be more serious traffic accidents and fatal overdoses because sometimes marijuana can have lethal fentanyl mixed in, Kenward said.

Even if recreational marijuana is legalized, Kenward expects people will still buy it on the street where it would be cheaper because it wouldn’t be taxed by the state. The marijuana on the street isn’t regulated and sometimes has fentanyl mixed in.

Medina village trustee Tim Elliott cast the lone opposing vote against sending the letter to the state. Elliott said today that regulating marijuana in other states has reduced government debt through sales tax and also funded additional important programs that help the community.

“Funds go toward public health, public safety,” he said. “It also create much-needed jobs. It allows a safe place to purchase a recreational drug, where it can be controlled. You won’t find laced marijuana at a dispensary as they are regulated, versus on the street where you don’t know what you’re getting.”

Orleans County District Attorney Joe Cardone also has shared his concerns that legalizing recreational marijuana will make the roadways less safe, with drivers under the influence causing more accidents and fatalities on the local roadways.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said legalization is projected to create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs, spur $3.5 billion in economic activity while generating an estimated $350 million in tax revenue once fully implemented.

The legislation to be voted on the Legislature includes additional funding for drug recognition experts and law enforcement to ensure safe roadways. The use of cannabis by drivers will remain prohibited.

(Editor’s Note: This article was updated from the original version to include comments from Tim Elliott.)