Updated 12/07/2012 05:55 PM
Mayor calls for legalization of marijuana
The mayor of Ithaca says it's time for New York to get on the bandwagon and legalize marijuana. YNN's Tamara Lindstrom sat down with the mayor to talk about why he thinks it's the right time, and the right move for state leaders.
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ITHACA, N.Y. -- With the legalization of medicinal marijuana gaining momentum nationwide, one local leader is calling for New York State to do the same.
"While I do think we don't want to send a message that marijuana is a good thing, we've come to the point where the war on this drug has had a worse impact than the drug itself," said Svante Myrick, (D) Mayor of Ithaca.
Myrick is calling on Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers to legalize the drug, starting with medicinal uses.
"Frankly, we've got 18 states that have already done it. Plus Washington, D.C. And I think they've shown compassion for people that are suffering from illness, and foresight getting control of the substance and regulating it," Myrick said.
The mayor says punishments are too harsh.
"You've got these kids making mistakes where even though the habit of using marijuana may last two or three years, an arrest will stay with them for life."
Rather than waste police and court resources cracking down on marijuana use, the mayor said he's asked the police to focus on bigger crimes.
"What we're focused on here in Ithaca is stopping violent crimes," Myrick said. "Getting guns off the street. Prosecuting the people that are selling cocaine and heroine. People who are selling synthetic drugs, meth, bath salts. "
While he doesn't condone using the drug recreationally, Myrick says the best way to protect the public is to legalize, regulate and tax it.
The mayor said that he will still go after people who bring drugs onto school campuses, or try to sell to minors.