This is not your parents’ weed. Information and data from states that have legalized marijuana should give New Yorkers reason to pump the brakes on taxed, regulated recreational use. Legalization of the 2020 version of cannabis is not about consenting adults discretely smoking a joint in the privacy of their home.
It is about an industry-driven, full-on commercialization with pot shops, pot advertisements, pot sponsorships, and pot fundraisers. All of these to sell pot brownies, gummies, cookies, vapes, sodas, infused wines, distillates, concentrates, ointments, and vapes. If we legalize cannabis for recreational use, prepare to be inundated with highly concentrated cannabis products that do not remotely resemble the weed most readers might remember.
We as a community need to view legalization with eyes wide open. This is about a billion dollar industry whose primary concern is NOT your health or the health of your children. It is about dollar signs in an untapped market. There are multiple promises that the industry and its advocates have touted related to the commercialization of the drug. The public should know that nearly all of the industry’s public health promises have been disproven in the states that have legalized recreational use.
Promise: Youth use rates will go down
Reality: Youth rates of cannabis use are increasing
Promise: The black market will disappear
Reality: Black markets are thriving in legal states by selling street pot cheaper than taxed pot
Promise: Social justice issues will be resolved and fewer minorities will be arrested
Reality: Arrest rates for minorities are disproportionate in legal states and increasing
Promise: The cannabis supply will be safer
Reality: Commercialized cannabis, up to 99.9 percent THC, is a drug with far more harms than the 5 percent THC version of pre-legalization
Promise: Legal marijuana will make people safer
Reality: Marijuana-related traffic fatalities have increased significantly in legal states
Promise: People cannot become addicted to marijuana
Reality: Cannabis Use Disorder (Addiction) is an actual diagnosis
Promise: Legalized marijuana will reduce death from opioid overdose
Reality: This early assumption was disproven by a 2019 study.
Revenue projections are also not as promised. None of the NY tax-bonanza predictions include the costs associated with police for increased traffic enforcement, hospitals for increased emergency room visits, government departments for increased oversight, poison control for increase calls for pediatric consumption, businesses for diminished job performance, or mental health for increased incidences of psychosis (all of these have occurred in legal states). Those are not costs that will be borne by the billion dollar cannabis industry. Those are costs that will land on tax payers. In Colorado, tax payers spent $4 to mitigate the cannabis-related harm for every $1 gained in tax revenue. But, those numbers don’t make national news.
Let’s pump the brakes, New York. Our youth, our health, our traffic safety and our mental health are far more important than a questionable revenue stream. We did the right thing last year with decriminalization. The next step does not have to be opening the doors to a billion dollar industry whose entire job is to make stockholders happy. Commercialization does not have to be inevitable.
Julie Dostal is executive director of The LEAF Council on Alcoholism & Addictions, Oneonta.
ONEONTA –Julie Dostal knows the importance of family traditions at the holidays.
“When I was growing up (in Atlanta), my mom and dad piled us all in the car and drove us around town to ooh and aah at the Christmas lights,” said LEAF Inc.’s executive director “I know a lot of people who have that same awesome memory with their families.”
Now, LEAF is putting together The Great Otsego Holiday Light Trail, a map that will coordinate all of the best holiday lights across the county, from Richfield Springs to Sidney.
“Every year, people post all these incredible light displays on Facebook,” she said. “And I thought, all this needs is for someone to coordinate where all of them are so people can drive around and see the displays for themselves.”
The map, which can soon be accessed from www.AllOTSEGO.com, can download to your cell phone and sync with a map, so you will be able to drive from one to the next without getting lost.
“You can do it in sections,” said Dostal. “Or if you want to do a holiday Lights-a-Palooza and get them all in one night, it’ll be easy to navigate on your cell phone.”
The map will debut on Thanksgiving Day, but to make the trail really glow, they need your help. “When you see a fantastic lights display – I’m talking one with thousands of lights and inflatables and everything – take a picture of it, write down the address and put it on our Facebook page,” she said. “We’ll add it to the map!”
The first on the map is Kevin and Christy Comstock’s home at 42 Maple St., Oneonta, which over the last decade has become a wonderland of colorful inflated characters.
“When my son Zachary was little, he saw an Eeyore inflatable in Kmart that he really liked,” said Kevin. “Since then, we’ve slowly built up the collection.”
The yard now has eight inflatable characters, including a giant BB-8 in the “Star Wars” section, which also features Yoda – dressed as Santa – and Darth Vader.
He and Christy stock up on discounted inflatables at the end of every season. “New this year are Mickey and Pluto,” he said. “We put them out as soon as we take down our Halloween inflatables, but we got started late this year because of the weather. It’s not fun to put them out when it’s zero degrees.”
But weather, he said, is why they leave them on 24 hours a day. “If we turn them off and they get snow on them, it’s hard to inflate them and you risk the motor burning out,” he said. “Plus it really embarrasses the heck out of Zachary, so we keep doing it. He’s 14 now, so he comes home from school and they’re all out there.”
“When people put all this work into these displays, they want people to come by and see them,” said Dostal.
And don’t be shy about getting out of the car to snap a selfie.
“Kids always want to get their picture taken with them,” said Kevin. “It’s fun.”
Seventy-six of American Legion Riders, Nam Knights and The Red Knights, took off from Oneonta’s American Legion Post 242 this morning on the 2nd annual Foliage Ride, to benefit LEAF. The ride also drew attention to a new “Dry Run” patch adopted this year, signifying their rides are alcohol-free. Created by the riders Assistant Director Chris Chase, the patch is gaining popularity in the region, and efforts are being made to have it go nationwide. “Veterans are our treasure!” said LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal, seen above with, from left, Chase, Chris Dennis and Rob Martinez. “The fact they are willing to do this and keep them all safe is phenomenal.” Other chapters are already having their own custom “Dry Run” patches created to promote happy, safe and sober riding. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
FAIR OPENING – Noon. Celebrate opening of the Fair with NY State Sire Stake Harness Racing, Fire Service/School Band Parade, fireworks show, much more. Otsego County Fair, 48 Lake St., Morris. 607-263-5289 or visit www.otsegocountyfair.org
WORLD MUSIC – 8 p.m. – Contemporary West African music performed by world-renowned vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sona Jobarteh at West Kortright Center. $28 Non-members($32 day of); $24 Members ($28 day of); $10 under 19; free 8 and under. 49 W Kortright Church Rd, East Meredith. Info, (607) 278-5454, www.westkc.org
A visitor to Otsego County from Vermont a few days ago described what seems to be a sensible end to marijuana prosecutions in the Green Mountain State.
Smoking pot has been legalized in a number of states. Folks who smoke it are allowed to grow enough for their own use. So it then comes as no surprise to find that some people may buy cannabis seeds from weed-seeds.ca, for example, in the hopes of growing cannabis at home. End of discussion. Live and let live.
Alas, poor New York State, where we’re focused, not on live and let live, but on extracting the maximum in revenues from a prospective $3 billion industry and spreading it around among our partisan friends.
After months of smoke and fiery rhetoric over marijuana legalization, Governor Cuomo Monday, June 3, doused hopes, saying it probably won’t happen this year.
SPECIAL PERFORMANCE – 8 p.m. One night program featuring chamber music and literature with cellist Jan Vogler, pianist Vanessa Perez, and violinist Mira Wang performing selections from Bach, Schubert, and readings from Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper. Also including Bill Murray (Ghost Busters, Lost in Translation, Moonlight Kingdom, etc.). Glimmerglass Festival, 7300 St. Hwy. 80, Cooperstown. 607-547-2255 or visit glimmerglass.org/events/bill-murray-jan-vogler-and-friends-new-worlds/
PROGRAM – 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Learn to make your own oil diffuser and about the benefits of aromatherapy. Huntington Memorial Library, 62 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Call 607-432-1980 or visit hmloneonta.org/calendar/
FILM SCREENING – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Showing “Smacked: Addiction & Recovery in Rural America” showing how/why people become addicted to heroin and what the medical, law, education systems are doing to combat it. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. Call 607-432-0090 or visit www.facebook.com/LEAFinc/
FIGHT WALK – 6 p.m. – Midnight. Enter to raise awareness and money for local families battling cancer. Features food, activities, music. Entry, $15. Field House, SUNY Oneonta. Call 607-436-3310 or visit suny.oneonta.edu/csrc/oh-fight-walk
OPENING RECEPTION – 5 – 7 p.m. Celebrate the opening of exhibits “In Motion,” featuring works by Christopher Murray and Akira Nitsu, and the solo exhibit “Possum’s Persimmon Picnic” by Mary Lou Ganio. Cooperstown Art Association. Call 607-547-9777 or visit www.cooperstownart.com
At the first Otsego County Healthy Living Expo today, organizer Mathew Johnson, left, and Julie Dostal, right, look on as Bassett physician Richard Brown briefs state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, on National Take Back Week, an initiative to collect outdated prescriptions. Inset photo, Allistair, left, and Alex Scorzafava, center, present Michael Gardner, Milford, with a brand new bicycle provided by New York Central Mutual; the company will be giving out another 25 bike tomorrow (Saturday), when the Expo resumes from 10 to 4 in Foothills’ Atrium. The event features 40 local organizations providing information on healthy living. Visitors can get information and resources, plus fresh produce courtesy of Pathfinder village. You can pet animals from the Utica Zoo, listen to guest speakers, or have your feet checked for weight distribution. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)