Steuben County Sheriff’s Office Puts Out Statement About Legalizing Marijuana

June 14, 2019

Statement From The Steuben County Sheriff’s Department:

A Study by Smart Approaches to Marijuana- NY
in Cooperation with
the New York State Chiefs of Police Association and
The New York State Sheriff’s Association
J. Scott Moody –Economist
JUNE, 2019


The proposed legalization of marijuana in New York will result in higher costs to state and local law enforcement and emergency services. Towns and cities across the state will face increased budgetary pressures at a time when New York’s tax burden is already a serious drag on the economy. In fact, according to the Tax Foundation, New York has the highest state and local tax burden in the country as a percent of the economy (12.7 percent) and fourth highest per person property tax burden ($2,782).

Marijuana legalization in New York will have both significant budgetary and societal costs.

First, marijuana legalization will be a major cost driver for state and local law enforcement and emergency services agencies. Keeping New York’s roads (from DWI’s) and communities (from black market operations) safe will require additional drug policing with Drug Recognition Experts (DRE’s), drug testing equipment, and drug-sniffing dogs all of which will require expensive new acquisitions and training. Also, dealing with the consequences of increased impaired driving, and the corresponding increase in car crashes will lead to higher costs to law enforcement and emergency services.

Overall, upfront budgetary costs to law enforcement and emergency services ranges from $190.3 to 235.2 million (Table 1). Ongoing annual costs range from $157.5 to $192.2 million. Car crashes would cost another $44 million between 2018 and 2028 (Table 2).

Second, car crashes have a broader negative societal impact in terms of increased hospitalizations (paid for, in part, by public health agencies), emergency departments, and deaths.

Overall societal costs between 2018 and 2028 would cost $388 million in hospitalization charges (of which $34.5 million will be paid for by public funded sources such as Medicaid and Medicare), $253 million in emergency department visits, and $4.3 billion in the value of lost lives (Table 3).

In the end, marijuana legalization will create numerous destructive waves through New York ranging from significant budgetary hardship to law enforcement and emergency services to the shattered lives of people involved in car crashes. New York’s law enforcement and emergency services will bear the immediate brunt of this unfolding tragedy which will create unsavory tradeoffs from reducing other services, tearing the fabric of public safety, to increasing local budgets and taxes, boosting New York’s already highest-in-the-nation level of taxation.


Current experience in states with legalized marijuana, such as Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, shows that there will be more people driving under the influence and that the black market for marijuana will get larger. Consequently, the budgetary needs for law enforcement will increase.


It has been a long-standing transportation goal to make New York’s roads as safe as possible for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists among others. Factors such as technological improvements and public policy have helped create a percent decline in crashes and injuries between 2009 and 2017. However, the legalizing marijuana will likely erode these gains in safety based on data from other states.

At the forefront will be New York’s law enforcement and emergency services who will tend and mend the vehicles and lives of those involved in Driving While Impaired (DWI) crashes. As such, Marijuana legalization will increase numerous costs to the state’s local law enforcement and emergency services such as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and fire departments.

The first line of defense in keeping New York’s roads safe are the patrol men and women who are on the lookout for drivers who may be impaired. However, even when there is a strong suspicion of impairment, it is not an easy task to determine the level of impairment given the wide availability and use of drugs, both legal and illegal.

In the aftermath of a traffic stop on the suspicion of impairment, the officer must use their own knowledge and experience, such as being an Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) or a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) trained officer, and tools, such as a breathalyzer, to make a more definitive judgement. Let’s examine each of these.

ARIDE and DRE trained officers: An ARIDE or DRE trained officer has received special training to being able to determine impairment caused by drugs. Marijuana is already the single most identified drug through DRE evaluations—35 percent of all evaluations in 2017.

Currently in New York, there are approximately 1,803 ARIDE trained officers and 347 DRE trained officers. To become ARIDE certified, each officer must complete 1 day of training. To become DRE certified, each officer must complete 15 days of training and 1 day of training thereafter to maintain certification.

While the ARIDE and DRE training is free to the officer, there are costs to their agency of paying the officer to attend and paying another officer(s) to cover their assignments while they are away. This expense is on average $11,069 for the initial DRE training and $1,107 for the yearly maintenance. There is also the cost of accommodations and meals to the agency.

Between 2012 and 2018, Colorado increased the number of DREs by 66 percent to 214 from 129. If New York experiences the same increase, the number of DREs would increase by 229 officers to 576 from 347 and would cost an additional $4.7 million (Table 1) for the initial training and an annual maintenance cost of $313,128.