Editorial: As with gay marriage, LaValle wrong on marijuana

06/26/2014 6:00 AM |
(Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

(Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

When this newspaper penned an editorial earlier this year supporting the legalization of medical marijuana in New York State, our editorial board braced for pushback from our readers.

We didn’t expect Molotov cocktails to be thrown through our office windows, but we certainly anticipated letters and phone calls from readers referring to us as mainstream liberal left media.

That never happened. Not one letter. No phone calls.

We quickly realized our readers actually agreed with us on this one. Apparently, our representative in the state Senate, Ken LaValle, did not. 

Amid a flurry of last-minute bills that passed both houses of the state Legislature last week was the Compassionate Care Act, which makes New York the 23rd state in the nation to legalize the sale of medical marijuana. Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) was one of just 10 state senators to vote against the bill, which he called “very alarming.”

What’s alarming for us is that our state senator, who continues to run for office every two years without facing much competition, voted in the minority on what we believe to be common sense legislation aimed at improving the quality of life for a significant portion of his constituency. In total, 88 percent of Albany legislators voted in support of medical marijuana, including his counterparts in the Assembly, Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor).

Mr. LaValle’s statement that he was concerned the bill would lead to making marijuana a recreational drug across New York State leads us to believe that he has no idea just how many people already use marijuana as a recreational drug.

The state senator’s conservative voting record on issues like medical marijuana and gay marriage, which he rejected twice, indicate to us that he is out of touch on some of the most important social issues of our time.