This week the executive director for the State Association of County Health Officials had an op ed published. In it she warned that while there appears to be broad support for legalization, voters are overwhelmingly also concerned about their health. And there are a lot of health issues to consider when discussing cannabis and marijuana.
Spectrum News spoke with county commissioners who are highly concerned about the potential impacts on children and adolescents. There are issues like smoke and secondhand smoke.
"We want to make sure, if and when the legalization of marijuana does come to be, that we’re prepared and that we understand as much as we can and our position at the moment is that we’re not quite there," Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County Health Commissioner, said.
But another issue is how accessible this new product will be to teens and could it potentially be marketed toward them. They want to know, for instance, how New York plans to deal with edibles which can often be packaged in brightly colored wrappers and even look like candy.
"I think looking at the models of how we regulate tobacco and alcohol is really what we need to look to. So making the age limit for sales at least 21. Making sure the edibles are not enticing to minors," Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County health commissioner, said.
Burstein suggested it's not really productive to talk about whether or not it should be legalized because it appears that's what's going to happen. However, she said a lot of people are weighing in now on the debate and health officials want to make sure they have a voice in that.
Of course there are a lot of specific concerns, whether it be the effects on infants and breastfeeding to motorists driving under the influence. But in a broader sense they said they're worried that people think there are zero health risks for marijuana in general and they say according to the science, that's just not true.