Lansing Public Shares Concerns With Cannabis Laws | Lansing
While the village of Lansing has already made its decision about the sale and public use of cannabis in the community – opting for retail sales and local use – the city has yet to make a decision on the two proposed ordinances.
No decision was made at the November 17th city council meeting as the public is to be consulted on both laws. A public hearing on the two proposals was held last Wednesday, and a handful of people attended and had their say. Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne was also present through Zoom to answer any public questions on the matter.
Those who spoke during the hearing expressed their uncertainty and concern about the possibility of legalizing the sale and public use of cannabis in the city. A local resident, Hugh Bahar, urged the council to opt out of both proposals for the time being and see how fair communities that have opted for both regulations are. (Municipalities that initially opted out can opt for one or both of the laws. Those that opt out first cannot opt out later.)
Bahar mentioned the risk of “acute marijuana poisoning” in children, which, according to Children’s Hospital Colorado, occurs when someone experiences “immediate marijuana side effects” from smoking or using cannabis. Children can mistake cannabis for actual food and, depending on their age, height, and weight, can get very sick and lead to an emergency room visit or hospitalization, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
He also said he was concerned about a possible increase in drug crime in the city and didn’t think there was a need for pharmacies in the city.
“Right here in Lansing, across the street from Rogue’s Harbor, we had a drug-related shootout there recently, as I’m sure you all know,” Bahar said. “I think getting more drugs into this city is the opposite of where we need to go.”
“I think we’re going to roll the dice – it’s not a good roll,” he said. “There is a lot of evidence for that. People in need of medical marijuana – and I support prescribed marijuana as long as the dosage is prescribed and people are getting the correct dosage – there are dozen of marijuana outlets in the state where people can get their medical marijuana online when they can need, have it sent to you. Everything is available; We don’t need it in this city to give medical marijuana to people suffering from anxiety, pain and other life problems like cancer and other things. “
Regarding law enforcement, another local resident pointed out that the police have no way of measuring a person’s impairment if they have been stopped and have recently used cannabis, as opposed to situations involving alcohol where a driver is stopped and with is tested with a breathalyzer.
Following public comments, Sheriff Osborne spoke on the matter, first emphasizing that he was not “outrageously against marijuana”.
“I think it has many medical uses that are helping a lot of people, and I think a lot of it is still unexplored in my personal opinion,” said Osborne. “I’m also one who largely believes that people can do whatever they want within their own four walls. But we know from experience that people often don’t stay home with such things. We know that when we drink and consume alcohol. “
Osborne made the point that authorities had no methods of testing for impairment from cannabis and said that was a concern of his too.
“It’s much easier to visually observe signs of alcohol intoxication, and we also have a breath test so we can test on site and do a more extensive breath test or blood test later if necessary,” he said. “The problem with marijuana is that it’s in your system and it stays there for a long, long time. So we can test and find out if someone has it in their system, but it doesn’t prove to us if they have consumed it. It could have been two weeks before and it won’t help us with the indictment. “
Osborne also expressed concern about the possibility of the local crime rate spiking if retail stores were allowed to set up in the city.
“These types of businesses may need to be a cash run business. With marijuana still breaking federal law, I understand that there is a chance that this money could not be deposited into financial institutions. … That might not sound like terrible at first, but if you have a local business in Lansing City that holds large quantities of marijuana and large amounts of cash, this could become an easy target for burglary, or some other type of crime, or robbery . “
According to the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) 2020 report, “Impact of Marijuana Legalization on Law Enforcement and Crime: Final Report,” there is limited data on the association between cannabis dispensary presence and neighborhood crime rates with some of the people few studies report a positive relationship between the two and others show a negative relationship. OJP notes in its report that “It is important to note that a link between pharmacies and neighborhood crime, whether positive or negative, significant or insignificant, does not in and of itself suggest that legalization increases overall crime or reduced. “
Should crime in such areas rise, Osborne said he was not sure the sheriff’s office had enough resources to fight such crimes.
“If the city council decides in this direction and an increase becomes necessary [in] Police response and presence, I am not confident that the sheriff’s office can do more than what we are currently doing, ”he said. “Our 325 zone, which includes the city of Lansing and the city of Groton, is now our busiest patrol zone. We are more responsive to this zone than any other area in Tompkins County. And I can tell you it’s not the result of the City of Groton. “
The city council plans to vote on both bills at its next session on December 15th.