The NY State Legislature is considering a bill that would legalize medical marijuana, and NYC's top drug prosecutor has voiced concern, calling it "far too loosely drawn" and saying it "offers no safeguards to protect the health of those who use it."
Although personally in favor of the study of marijuana for medicinal purposes, Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan is in Albany today, meeting with legislators about the bill's perceived problems.
Yesterday, Brennan sent a letter to legislators saying that the bill "sets up the same flawed distribution structure that has lead to escalating crime and health problems in other states."
For example the bill does not properly regulate placement of marijuana dispensaries in safe neighborhoods, away from schools or high-crime neighborhoods.
"Dispensaries have proven to be public nuisances and magnets for crime," Brennan warned in the letter.
Other concerns raised by the prosecutor include insufficient testing regulation of the marijuana itself for harmful contaminants, which is of particular concern when used on sick patients with weak immune systems.
"Since there is no way to determine what marijuana contains by looking at it, the Health Department would have to rigorously oversee dispensaries and test all marijuana before distribution," Brennan concluded.
New Jersey has recently legalized medical marijuana, bringing the total with such a law to 14 states. Medical marijuana is still illegal on the federal level and the Food and Drug Administration does not recognize any health benefits associated with marijuana's use.
Brennan "strongly believe[s] that marijuana should be rigorously researched...and advocate[s] removing all obstacles to teh scientific study of the remedial potential of marijuana," she wrote in the letter.