Principles of responsible cannabis use
Re: “The downsides of marijuana legalization” by Jesse Smith published February 6, 2019: I appreciate the concerns of Saugerties Police Chief Sinagra and Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright about motor vehicle safety. But our roads will not be made safer by continuing cannabis prohibition. Law enforcement efforts are well meaning but this is a public health issue, and we need campaigns to discourage driving while drinking, sleepy, stoned, texting, on medicines that make people drowsy, and so on.
Keeping cannabis illegal simply turns otherwise good people into lawbreakers. Alcohol prohibition led to Al Capone and thousands of violent criminal organizations. Cannabis prohibition leads to crime and disrespect for our hard working, brave police officers.
The reality is that now, while cannabis use is illegal, people still drive while impaired by alcohol, many prescription medications, many over-the-counter medications like Benedryl, cannabis, lack of sleep, etc. People also drive distracted, texting, and just recklessly.
NORML, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has published “Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use” including a No Driving policy which states:
“The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery while impaired by cannabis, nor (like other responsible citizens) while impaired by any other substance or condition, including some medicines and fatigue.”
Legalization of responsible adult use is inevitable. It is the will of the vast majority of New Yorkers.
We at Hudson Valley NORML look forward to a productive dialogue with law enforcement, public health officials and local political leaders. Let’s work together.
Executive Director, Hudson Valley NORML
Please vote for Pat Ryan
On February 20, Democratic Committee members in Ulster County will be meeting to select a nominee to replace Mike Hein, our out-going County Executive. In this regard, I cannot think of a better candidate than Pat Ryan and I urge committee members to vote for this outstanding person. If you are not a committee member but know one, please urge them to vote for Pat. Why? Well, Mike Hein will be incredibly hard to replace. To carry on his efforts, we need a candidate with charisma, leadership skills and problem-solving abilities. Pat has these and much more, including an in-depth understanding of the problems facing working people in this global economy. Pat is dedicated to fighting climate change and re-training workers in skills needed to compete in the 21st century marketplace. He understands the need to promote tourism, education and sensible economic growth. Plus, he has the skills to do it! He was a military combat officer who served his country and upon his return to civilian life, he founded a company that employs over 150 people. This experience has helped Pat to crystallize a strategy to continue making Ulster County the best place to live and work. Please visit his website @ryanforulster.com and vote for Pat Ryan.
Stephen J. Weir
Ryan: I will protect our values
Last Sunday I stood in solidarity with my neighbors in New Paltz after a well known community member was detained by ICE. A highly successful business owner with strong roots in our community was taken from his own driveway and his family waited eleven days to learn why. These kinds of actions are happening all to often, and are diametrically opposed to our values of inclusivity, justice and community. As County Executive, I will take an active role in opposing Trump administration policies like this that threaten Ulster County residents.
I will oppose any coordination between our county and local law enforcement and ICE, and stand in solidarity with our immigrant communities. I will oppose regulatory rollback of critical environmental protections, and block future dirty energy production that would pollute our county and I will oppose cuts to critical social services programs such as SNAP, low-income housing assistance, mental health services, and veterans services.
Opposition to dangerous policies is not enough, we also must be the change that we wish to see in the world. On that front, Ulster County has the potential to become a beacon of justice re-defining what that word “justice” means in our society. We’ve made tremendous progress with the construction of the Restorative Justice Center. The Center is not only a place for our underprivileged youth to find opportunity and hope, it is the first step in reforming our broken criminal justice system.
We now have the opportunity to expand on initiatives like the Restorative Justice Center to help break the school-to-prison pipeline and provide opportunities for the most vulnerable members of our community.
I will be proud to partner with our new County Sheriff, Juan Figueroa, to enact the “First Chance” prison-to-work program championed by Sheriff Figueroa, which partners with local businesses to provide employment opportunities for individuals transitioning out of the criminal justice system. I will ensure we prioritize and promote programs that create alternatives to incarceration, such as Drug Court and Veterans Court and I will support and enforce the Ulster County Human Rights Protection Act of 2018 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a wide range of protected categories and empowers the Ulster County Human Rights Commission to hear complaints locally, rather than going through Albany.
As County Executive, I will fight to protect our values and work to continue to make us a leader on issues regarding the environment and social justice.
Where are my cats?
I submitted an application, and picked out two kittens, litter mates, to adopt. I waited for a response. None came. I called. I was told to call back. I called again. I was told someone would call me. No one called back.
I was informed that I would not be allowed to take the cats home in a cat carrier on a bicycle because that would be too dangerous. Based on what? Elly Monfett said because that is what she thinks.
This in New York, the first state to grant equal rights of the road to bicyclists, in 1887. (All states do now.)
Bicycling is safe enough for me, but not for the cats? Are you going to arrest a mother who is bicycling for having a baby aboard? Cats are more dear than babies?
A number of surveys show bicycling on the road is no more dangerous than an equal time travelling in a car.
Fred Costello offered to pick up the cats and deliver them to me, but Elly Monfett threw my application away and gave the cats to someone else.
I will be happy when she is gone.
Addiction treatment availability
Treatment and recovery options for those seeking medical treatment for opiate addiction are potentially becoming more diverse for those under care in Ulster County. Local alternative health care practitioners are adding pro bono options for patients at area methadone clinics to receive free yoga and meditation classes. The usage of alternative treatments like yoga and meditation assists addicts in recovery to feel the pain that they are suffering from internally and to accept that pain as being something that they can work through in the process of breaking the addiction cycle.
Unfortunately, the costs associated with in-patient treatment programs remain very high, and this leads to insurance companies being discriminatory and over-restrictive in the application of the criteria needed for patients to qualify for coverage. In 2014, while I was in the Ulster County Legislature, a grieving mother of a 22-year-old who had passed away from a heroin overdose spoke to the legislature in a plea for government intervention on all levels. In her speech, she informed us how a major insurance company had denied addiction treatment services to her son. In their denial, the insurance company ruled that her son would have to “fail one more time” in order to receive coverage. Unfortunately, his relapse led to his death at the hands of opiate addiction. As a member of the Health Care Committee, I decided to speak with the woman in the hallway about her family’s loss and to console her.
Recently, the Federal Government has committed to providing New York State with more than $9 million in federal funding to expand upon opioid addiction treatment services across the state. This funding includes $5.7 million to expand access to medication assisted treatment, $2.1 million to develop new recovery centers in areas of high need, and over $1.3 million for specialized treatment and recovery programs. These initiatives are being funded through the State Opioid Response Grant which is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Residents of New York struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help by calling the State’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Text-Code 467369). Available addiction treatment options include: crisis-level detoxification, inpatient treatment, community-based centers or through outpatient care. These treatment options can be accessed using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov or through the NYS OASAS website.
Thanks to Rhianna and Main Street Restaurant
A few years ago a program was developed at Mt. Marion Elementary School called Supper Support. It is designed for parents to come to school with their student to eat supper and complete homework together. It gives families the opportunity to work on class assignments with the support of volunteers from our staff who are available to answer questions. Supper Support provides a space each month to give encouragement and guidance for parents to assist their child with homework that may be challenging and then eat a meal together with no cost to families. It has proven to be an environment that is community based, creating a strong connection between home and school. We generally have 35-40 students, staff members and parents that regularly attend.
It has been somewhat difficult to cover the cost of the meal each month despite fundraising efforts. This past month, Marie Zito who is a Mt. Marion parent, asked a local restaurant to donate the dinner for Supper Support. Rhianna Rodriguez, the owner of Main Street Restaurant in Saugerties, volunteered to do the job without hesitation. She provided us with trays full of beans, ground beef, rice and tortillas in addition to all the fixings that were needed to make tacos. It was plentiful, it was delicious and it was completely free of any charges. As one parent said “this was the best meal of the Supper Support program.” We would all like to acknowledge Rhianna’s effort and thank her for an incredibly generous contribution. She proved that the Saugerties community and business owners clearly support our local schools. Please support Main Street Restaurant!