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Letter: New York should legalize marijuana and save lives

New York should legalize marijuana and save lives

Regarding the July 13 News editorial, “Congress has an obligation to improve treatment options for opiate addictions,” legislators are going to have to think outside of the drug war box if they are serious about reducing prescription painkiller and heroin overdose deaths.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that states with open medical marijuana access have a 25 percent lower opioid overdose death rate than marijuana prohibition states. States with well-established open access showed a 33 percent reduction in overdose deaths. This research finding has huge implications for states like New York that are grappling with opioid overdose deaths.

The medical marijuana program approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is too restrictive to have an impact. New York can and should do better.

The phrase “if it saves one life” has been used to justify all manner of drug war abuses. Legal marijuana access has the potential to save thousands of lives.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy