Oceanside, NY, September 27, 2018 --(PR.com
)-- Fifty-percent of metro area New York residents support legalizing recreational marijuana, but 74% of respondents expressed concern about people driving under the influence of marijuana and 57% are unaware that currently no field sobriety test exists to test for marijuana use among drivers, according to the latest South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union.
Respondents were split as to whether or not they believe marijuana is addictive with 54% saying they believe it is. Results were similar as to whether or not marijuana is a "gateway" or a habit-forming drug that may lead to other drug use with 49 percent of respondents believing it can lead to other drug usage.
An overwhelming majority – 86 percent – said tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales should be used to advance public health initiatives, the poll showed. And 94 percent agree that marijuana should not be sold near schools and houses of worship.
Most respondents believe alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana with 42 percent believing alcohol is extremely dangerous as opposed to 28 percent for marijuana.
Recreational marijuana is currently legal in nine states; medical in 30 states. Several other states, including New York and New Jersey, are considering moves to legalize recreational marijuana. Among the 'Truth in Medicine' poll respondents, 50 percent supported legalizing recreational marijuana, 40 percent were opposed and 10 percent were unsure. Respondents agree that with any potential legalization must come education, even among those currently using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Dr. Adhi Sharma, South Nassau's chief medical officer and executive vice president, urges lawmakers to consider creating a fund that ensures the tax revenue generated from recreational marijuana sales go to research field sobriety tests for drivers under the influence. A public health campaign around the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana also is needed, he said. "Regardless of your personal opinion on medical or recreational marijuana use, should recreational use become legal in New York, there needs to be a significant public health campaign on the dangers of driving while under the influence," Sharma said.
The South Nassau Truth in Medicine Poll, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, is a quarterly survey of 600 Long Island and New York City residents that aims to gather data about public attitudes on key public health topics and help spur public education to improve public health. The poll was conducted via both landlines and cell phones from August 6-13 with 600 adults in New York City and on Long Island.
An overwhelming majority of respondents (70% of adults) agree with allowing marijuana for medical purposes. Respondents were split as to whether or not they believe marijuana is addictive with 54% saying they believe it is and 14% not sure. Results were similar as to whether or not marijuana is a "gateway" or a habit-forming drug that may lead to other drug use. Forty-nine percent of respondents say it is and 16% are not sure.
The increased acceptance of marijuana as a legal substance may give people a false sense of security about its safety, warns Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, South Nassau's Department of Medicine Chair and Hospital Epidemiologist. According to a recent study in the American Academy of Pediatrics, marijuana is one of the most widely used substances during pregnancy. Nursing mothers are being advised to avoid marijuana use because traces of "Tetrahydrocannabinol," or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets people high, can be detected in breast milk up to six days after use of the drug.
Dr. Glatt also points out that long-term marijuana use can impact brain development, lead to respiratory and heart problems and have negative effects on mental health and social abilities.
"Even if recreational marijuana use is legalized, it must come with public education about potential risks as the full scope of health impacts are still largely unknown. At the very least, it should be heavily regulated, like alcohol," said Dr. Glatt.
Poll results vary by age, race and other demographic indicators like whether or not you live in the city or Long Island. Sixty-two percent of respondents age 18-34 support legalizing recreational marijuana, but almost the same number (60%) of their parents' age groups, age 65 and up, oppose it. Additionally, in the 35-49 age group, 51% support legalization and 50% support it in the 50-65 year-old group.