New York state failed to legalize cannabis in 2019, despite being widely expected to do so. Some media reports blamed this simply on an inability to agree on how to divide the cannabis tax revenues.
However, what needs to be stressed here is that (as is true with most governments), New York politicians failed to do their homework to educate themselves about cannabis. Had they done so, they would have found it impossible not to have legalized recreational usage – because of the numerous benefits.
(Fully) legalizing cannabis reduces opioid abuse and opioid deaths.
It reduces teenage usage of cannabis.
It reduces alcohol consumption (and the health hazards/deaths from alcohol use).
It doesn’t lead to an increase in crime.
It doesn’t lead to an increase in traffic fatalities.
Ignorance about cannabis among New York legislators starts at the top, with Governor Andrew Cuomo. His lack of understanding about cannabis was on display in a recent interview with MSNBC.
As reported by Marijuana Moment, Cuomo seems to be strongly suggesting that any future legalization of adult-use cannabis in New York would be accompanied by a ban on smoking cannabis (and smokable products). He states on more than one occasion that he is “against smoking” and that cannabis consumers can get THC content without smoking cannabis.
If this is the Governor’s position, then it reflects deep ignorance about cannabis use. To start with, the vast majority of cannabis consumption (roughly 70%) presently comes in the form of dried flower or concentrates – combustible products.
If New York attempted a legalization framework for cannabis that banned smokable products, this would guarantee that New York’s cannabis black market would continue to thrive.
Second, Cuomo is grossly exaggerating the health risks of smoking cannabis when he says it’s “dangerous”, without any evidence to support this.
We know that smoking cigarettes kills more than 400,000 Americans every year. There is no credible science that attaches any health risks to (moderate) cannabis smoking other than respiratory irritation. If Cuomo insists on a cannabis smoking ban, this would likely guarantee another legislative stalemate, since it’s unlikely he could get majority support for his extreme position.
Third, the idea that either medicinal or recreational cannabis users could obtain the same effect/benefit from THC extracts is another unproven assertion from Cuomo.
A significant percentage of the medical community support the theory of “an entourage effect” with cannabis. The cannabis plant contains roughly 100 known cannabinoids (the active ingredients in the cannabis plant), along with terpenes and flavonoids.
According to this theory, it is the combination of these cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that produces the full therapeutic effects of cannabis.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are only two of these cannabinoids. And we already know that THC is more effective in many applications when combined with CBD.
What about THC combined with the other 90+ cannabinoids (and terpenes and flavonoids)? We don’t know. Cuomo is simply guessing when he claims that THC can be isolated for consumers, without loss of effectiveness.
It doesn’t require a PhD to learn the basics of cannabis science now that legitimate researchers actually have the opportunity to study the cannabis plant. Politicians simply need to invest a few hours of their time and avoid any federal government sources of “cannabis information”.
The U.S. government has always been the primary source of anti-cannabis propaganda. We only need to listen to some of these federal politicians to understand the bubble of cannabis ignorance in which the federal government exists. In fact, federal cannabis researchers are still “studying” the cannabis that was grown 30 years ago rather than studying what is actually being cultivated and marketed today.
New York failed to legalize cannabis in 2019. There is little reason to believe the state will do any better in its next attempt if Governor Cuomo attempts to impose his own narrow views on such legislation. Indeed, New York may actually be moving farther away from successfully legalizing cannabis for adult use.