NEW YORK, NY — January 8, 2020 — Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his annual State of the State Address in Albany. In his address, the governor repeated his call from last year to pass a bill legalizing the commercial sale of marijuana. The legislature failed to pass a bill accomplishing this last year due to the efforts of Smart Approaches to Marijuana New York (SAM New York).
Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM New York and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration released the following statement in response:
“At a time when Governor Cuomo is calling for bans to hold the vaping industry responsible, he must abandon a push to expand the industry responsible for more than 80% of the vaping illnesses and deaths. Marijuana legalization only serves to enrich Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol, and the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the health and safety of New Yorkers. We call on the governor to listen to public health and safety associations across the state, including the Medical Society and county health officials who, for the last year, have denounced the push for legalization.
“Commercialization has routinely resulted in consequences our state does not need, including sharp increases in marijuana-impaired driving and fatalities, thriving black markets, sustained social injustice, and increased youth use just to name a few. No matter how many states try, pot does not bring the promised ‘windfall’ of revenue. Promised social justice equity never materializes, arrest disparities continue, and innocent people get hurt. This is the reality of Big Pot.
“The governor has proposed a statewide ban on flavored nicotine vaping products and advertisements for such products that target youth. While this is to be praised, the proposal misses the mark by not realizing that the ongoing fatal vaping crisis is being driven by marijuana vaping products and is a result of marijuana commercialization.
“As a result of hard work and coalition building, we were able to defeat this effort in the last session, and we will continue to work to prevent further harms and halt any effort to legalize, commercialize, and promote the use of marijuana. The risks are too great.”
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For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit www.learnaboutsam.org.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, Ph.D., is a former three-time White House Office of National Drug Control Policy advisor, having been the only person appointed to that office by both a Republican (Administration of George W. Bush) and Democrat (Obama Administration and Clinton Administration). He is also an assistant professor adjunct at Yale University Medical School, a fellow at Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies, the Director of the Drug Policy Institute, and a courtesy assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida.
Sabet is the author of numerous articles and monographs including the book Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana, now in its second edition.
Sabet is the recipient of the Nils Bejerot Award given in conjunction with H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden and was one of four Americans (along with Jonathan Caulkins, Bertha Madras, and Robert DuPont) invited by Pope Francis to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences to discuss marijuana and other drug policy. He was invited to speak at the Allen and Co. Sun Valley Investor’s Conference in 2018.