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BOARD OF DIRECTORS: HONORARY BOARD:

DAVID L. NATHAN, MD, President CHRIS BEYRER, MD, MPH


BRYON ADINOFF, MD, Executive Vice President H. WESTLEY CLARK, MD, JD, MPH
KEMA OGDEN, Secretary JOYCELYN ELDERS, MD
GENESTER WILSON-KING, MD, Treasurer LESTER GRINSPOON, MD
DARBY BECK, MA CARL HART, PhD
PETER GRINSPOON, MD JULIE HOLLAND, MD
ANDREA LONG DAVID LEWIS, MD
MONICA TAING, PharmD, RPh DAVID NUTT, DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, FSB
BENY J. PRIMM, MD (1928-2015)
Address: SUZANNE SISLEY, MD
ANDREW SOLOMON, PhD
601 Ewing Street, Suite C-10 ANDREW WEIL, MD
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA

Phone: (+1) 202-930-0097 Email: info@dfcr.org


Fax: (+1) 202-754-9817 Website: www.dfcr.org

PHYSICIANS’ APPEAL FOR THE LEGALIZATION AND REGULATION


OF CANNABIS IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK

As medical professionals and healthcare providers, our first and foremost obligation is to
protect the health of our patients. Our lifelong commitment to improving public health and
patients’ quality of life has compelled us to offer our informed support for the legalization of
adult-use cannabis in the state of New York.
Decades of prohibition have failed to control cannabis use while disproportionately harming
communities of color, preventing cannabis research, limiting patient access, and restricting
efforts to combat opioid addiction. With each passing month of legislative inaction,
countless families across New York are destroyed by draconian criminal penalties, opioid
use, and limited access to adequate healthcare.
In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, more than 35,000 individuals in
New York were arrested for cannabis possession, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in
the process.1,2 Nationwide, blacks are arrested at nearly four times the rate of whites for
cannabis possession, despite both groups having similar rates of cannabis use. 3 An arrest
for cannabis possession results in lifelong impediments to employment and economic
security, creating a cycle of poverty that ultimately reduces healthcare access and
damages public health.4,5,6
Meanwhile, thousands of New York residents are dying each year due to opioid addiction
and overdose, and thousands more struggle with insufficient chronic pain management due
to bureaucratic obstacles within New York’s Medical Marijuana Program (MMP). 7,8 In the
absence of effective regulatory controls, adult cannabis consumers are forced to rely on the
illicit marketplace. This has led to greater exposure to dangerous synthetic cannabinoids
and prevents the implementation of standardized product labeling and childproof
packaging.9
It doesn’t need to be this way. In Denver, adult-use cannabis legalization has led to a 79%
decrease in total arrests for possession and an 80% decrease in the arrests of African-
American and Latinx individuals.10 Legalization corrects social equity gaps with a greater
potential impact than decriminalization alone.11,12
In states that have legalized cannabis for adult-use, opioid fatalities have notably declined.
This is promising foundational data, given that research has shown that legalization is
associated with more informed doctor-patient conversations on the topic of medical
cannabis treatment.13 By removing barriers to patient access and reducing the stigma of
cannabis as a prospective treatment option, policymakers in certain legal states have been
able to present a legitimate and low-risk therapeutic alternative to opioids.14,15,16,17
Regulatory oversight of the production, packaging, and sale of cannabis protects
consumers while shielding them from risks present in the illicit marketplace. 18 Generated
tax revenue from adult-use cannabis regulations can be allocated for medical research,
substance abuse treatment, and community reinvestment efforts. 19 Collectively, responsible
regulatory controls and additional tax revenue can reduce socioeconomic gaps and
improve public health outcomes across New York’s communities.
Contrary to the claims of adult-use opponents, youth consumption rates have remained
stable or declined in states following legalization.20,21 A closer examination of the data
substantiates that reputable regulatory controls, rather than prohibition, is the best way to
reduce youth cannabis use. Informed and measured educational campaigns have
successfully reduced tobacco and alcohol use among minors, while teen cannabis use has
risen under prohibition.22 Prohibition has failed to combat youth use, and instead has
strengthened an illicit marketplace that targets minors as customers.
While medical cannabis expansion and decriminalization offer positive benefits, the
continued failure to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis will undermine overall public
health. Legalization will facilitate responsible regulatory controls, expand patient access,
most effectively advance social justice, protect adult consumers, combat the opioid crisis,
reduce youth consumption, and improve health outcomes.
As medical professionals, we urge New York lawmakers to prioritize our communities’
health and public welfare by legalizing cannabis for adult-use.
Respectfully submitted,

Julia Arnsten, MD, MPH


Chair, New York Campaign Committee, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation
Internal Medicine
New York, NY
Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine
Director, Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research

Tanya Adams, DO
Family Practice
East Sekauket, NY
Physician, Setauket Primary Medical Care

Richard Allen, MD
Emergency Medicine, Addiction Medicine
Ithaca, NY

Craig D. Blinderman, MD, MA, FAAHPM


Family Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine
New York, NY
Fellow, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Director, Adult Palliative Care Service at Columbia University Medical Center
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and
Surgeons

Richard Carlton, MD
Integrative Psychiatry
Port Washington, NY
Co-Author, Type 2 Diabetes: Cardiovascular and Related Complications, and Evidence-Based
Complementary Treatments

Stephen Dahmer, MD
Family Medicine
New York, NY
Chief Medical Officer, Vireo Health
Fellow, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine
Former Assistant Clinical Professor, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Lynda Geraci, DO
Family Medicine Stony Brook, NY
Member, American Osteopathic Association
Physician, Private Practice

Arielle Gerard, MD, MS


Family Medicine
New York, NY

James Goodrich, MD
Internal Medicine
New York, NY
Clinical Instructor, Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Health
Attending Physician, The Mount Sinai Hospital

Roger Green, MD, FAAP


Pediatrics
Woodstock, NY
Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics
Retired Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital at Albany
Medical Center
Retired Attending Physician, Northern Dutchess Hospital; Vassar Brothers Medical
Center

Julie Holland, MD
Psychiatry
New York, NY
Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine
Former Assistant Clinical Professor, NYU School of Medicine
Editor, The Pot Book
Medical Monitor, Clinical Cannabis PTSD Research

Dara Huang, MD, MMSc Internal Medicine & Nephrology New York, NY
Attending Physician, Lenox Hill Hospital – Northwell Health; Mount Sinai; Beth Israel Hospital
Member, Chinese American Medical Society (CAMS)
Member, Coalition of Asian American Independent Physicians Association (CAIPA)

Jamie Loehr, MD
Family Medicine
Ithaca, NY

Barry Newman, MD, CEMP


Anesthesiology
New York, NY
Founder, Practice Transformation

Michael Pappas, MD
Family Medicine
New York, NY

Amy Piperato, MD Internal Medicine Stony Point, New York


Primary Care Physician, Stony Point Medical
Mother, child with Dravet’s Syndrome

Eugene Tinelli, MD, PhD


Psychiatry
Syracuse, NY
Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, State University of New York, Upstate
Medical University
Honorary Member, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

David B. Weiss, MD, MPH


Family Medicine
New York, NY

Kelsey Wilson-Henjum, MD
Family Medicine
New York, NY

Stacia Woodcock, PharmD


Pharmacy
New York, NY
Education Chair, Association of Cannabis Specialists
REFERENCES

1 Guion, Payton. “N.J. wants to erase marijuana charges, but weed arrests have massively
spiked. What's going on?” NJ.com. May 4, 2018.
https://www.nj.com/marijuana/2018/05/nj_could_start_erasing_marijuana_arrests_but_for_n.html
2 Drug Policy Alliance. “The Cost of New York City's Marijuana Possession Arrests.”
http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/75-million-year-cost-new-york-citys-marijuana-possession-arrests
3 American Civil Liberties Union. The War on Marijuana in Black and White. New York, NY:
June 2013. p. 17. https://www.aclu.org/report/war-marijuana-black-and-white
4 Laird, Lorelei. “Ex-offenders face tens of thousands of legal restrictions, bias and limits on their
rights.” American Bar Association Journal. June 1, 2013.
http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/ex-
offenders_face_tens_of_thousands_of_legal_restrictions
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marijuana-possession-plummet
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_health_care_professionals
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Consumers.” University of Washington, March 2015.
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DC: National Academy Press, 1999. pp. 100-101.
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‘Gateway Drug’?” FactCheck: A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. April 23,
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marijuana-really-a-gateway-drug/
18 California Medical Association. “Cannabis and the Regulatory Void: Background Paper and
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Committee.” October 2014.
https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/14%20MarijuanaSummaryReport.pdf
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