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January 19, 2014

Local DAs not high on medical-marijuana idea

MALONE — North Country prosecutors have sent many a drug dealer to state prison or jail for their involvement with marijuana trafficking.

So what do the district attorneys in Franklin, Clinton and Essex counties think about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s intent to legalize medical-marijuana use by certain patients with chronic pain?

“For myself, it’s A, a slippery slope, and B, if this is a ploy for legalization, go ahead and vote and quit this charade,” Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne said.

“The bottom line is the active ingredient in marijuana, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is available in pill form, so if marijuana clearly has medicinal purposes, why not dispense in pill form?”

And it doesn’t make sense for a person with lung cancer to smoke marijuana on a regular basis, he continued.

“Smoking isn’t really something you want to be doing if you’re sick.

“Just put it before the legislature and legalize it,” Champagne said. “Let’s not play out this charade for three or four years.”

‘FAILURE IN CALIFORNIA’

The district attorney described the legalization of the drug in California as “an absolute failure ... where everybody could get it. 

“You had more dispensaries in certain parts of the state than Starbucks.”

Should the New York State Legislature legalize it, he said, “then it’s the law of the land. But let’s call a spade a spade. Let’s not waste everybody’s time. Go to a vote; let it be done.”

His office would continue to have brisk business even if medicinal pot is made legal, he said.

“We will still prosecute rapists and murderers,” he said, “but to me, if the active ingredient is available in pill form and it’s safe, why hasn’t the FDA approved medicinal marijuana and repealed the federal laws, if smoking marijuana is so beneficial?”

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