By Derek Liebig
At least one local supervisor believes the county is allocating too many resources to the eradication of marijuana.
Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff said the county should devote more funding to the elimination of heroin and not marijuana.
“I’m going to be very politically incorrect, but we need to look at our cannabis laws—federal, state and local,” Haff said last Friday as the Board of Supervisors considered a $10,000 federal grant to aid the Washington County Sheriff’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression program.
“Heroin is a much bigger problem, and I’d rather see the money dedicated to heroin eradication,” Haff said.
Heroin is an increasing problem in the county and region.
Last week, police made two significant heroin seizures on Route 149 in Queensbury. In both instances, the people arrested were traveling from New York City to Rutland, Vt. A trailer park shooting in Whitehall earlier this year was believed to have occurred in retribution for a robbery in which money and drugs, including heroin, were taken from a hotel on Route 4 in Hampton.
“The fact that it’s (marijuana) in the same class as heroin, which is a huge problem, is ridiculous,” Haff said.
He went on to say that he spoke with Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy, who indicated to him that if he were not receiving a $10,000 grant for marijuana eradication, he wouldn’t allocate county funds to those efforts.
Murphy, who attended the meeting, did not refute those claims when given the opportunity.
Haff said society is becoming accepting of marijuana use. He cited Washington State and Colorado as states moving toward the legalization of the drug.
Another 20 states, as well as the District of Columbia, already permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“Leave it to Dana to be provocative. I’m going to try and choose my words carefully,” Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idelman said, “but I don’t disagree with him. I think we are going to see some changes. I’m not going to vote against this because we would lose $10,000, but Dana is right. This is not going away. I think eventually it will be legalized.”
And if it is, Haff believes it could be the county’s new cash crop.
“I think in New York state, cannabis should be treated like cigarettes and alcohol. We could control, regulate and tax it—especially industrial hemp,” Haff said.
Hemp has a much lower percentage of THC, the chemical that creates the sensation of being “high,” and can be refined into a variety of uses.
“You can smoke a boatload of it and not get high. It’s a very good fiber. The Declaration of Independence was written on it,” Haff said.
The board, including Haff, voted to accept the grant money, but he said an effort should be made in the future to prioritize heroin eradication.