A study surrounding recreational use of marijuana was proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara shared his thoughts on the matter.
“I think it’s a great idea that we actually study the impact before we just jump into the water head first and don’t know how deep it is,” McNamara said.
McNamara said he’s not quite sure how it may take effect, considering states who have made the change have a different policy than the federal law.
“The problem, though, is under state law, they’ve legalized the possession and recreational use of marijuana. But the federal law has never allowed that,” McNamara said.
Here in Oneida County, all marijuana cases are prosecuted by the Office of the District Attorney. Prosecutors deal with several instances of unlawful possession of marijuana. If recreational use is allowed, we would se a significant decrease in those cases. Yet, a UPM is treated as a violation, normally resulting in a fine.
“The lower level felonies typically just end up with probation. There’s been a real change in the philosophy of marijuana, I think a lot of it has to do with what’s going on in other states,” McNamara said.
McNamara believes the change would also cause an uptick in the number of people who drive while under the influence of marijuana–which, in turn, would cause more trouble for law enforcement.
“We can determine how intoxicated somebody is. We do not have that technology when it comes to marijuana,” McNamara said.
And while we could see more accidents on the road, if the drugs are sold legally, they would be more pure.
“You can control it, regulate it, monitor it more,” McNamara said.