PLATTSBURGH | A topic on the minds of many New Yorkers is the legalization of recreational marijuana. Despite promises by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to legalize the substance, it failed at this year’s legislative session, though marijuana was decriminalized even more – reducing charges, expunging some past charges and restricting the smoking of marijuana to in public. So far, in the U.S., 11 states have legalized recreational use of marijuana. 

In Plattsburgh, where substance abuse is being treated at newly opened recovery centers, some residents are concerned about legalization plans. Being called a “gateway drug” in recent years, the legalization of marijuana doesn’t sit well with some politicians and government employees who have made substance abuse one of their top career priorities. 

Among politicians concerned about substance abuse is New York Assemblyman Billy Jones, who says there hasn’t been enough research done on the drug to legalize it recreationally. He is, however, all for decriminalization when it comes to small offense marijuana charges.

“I just feel as though if you have a mark on your record for a low level of marijuana, it shouldn’t follow you the rest of your life, whether you’re going through school, vocational programs, jobs, careers,” Jones said. “We did vote to expunge the records of very low levels of marijuana.” 

Much of the government, as seen at the legislative session this year, feels the same way about recreational use as Jones. Of course, that doesn’t mean they are against marijuana use completely. In fact, the use of medical marijuana has strong support across the U.S., but has decreased in New York, due to what Cuomo claims is a poor system. However, the reconstruction of the medical marijuana bill is expected to reverse that, especially since legalizing recreational use in New York did not happen. 

Medicinal marijuana is used to treat a number of conditions, such as symptoms in chemo patients, eating disorders, seizure disorders, mental health, physical pain and more. To get access to it, one would need a written recommendation from their doctor, a medical marijuana ID and a New York state ID. It comes in many different forms and is sold in medical dispensaries, of which there aren’t many in the state right now. 

Plattsburgh is home to one of the few New York medical marijuana dispensaries, Curaleaf at 345 Cornelia St. More Curaleaf dispensaries are located in four other places throughout New York, as well as in other states. It opened in Plattsburgh April of last year in place of another dispensary that moved to New York City. In just that time, Curaleaf went from 400 clients to 3,000.

“We are a pharmacy, we are a medical cannabis dispensary,” Curaleaf Assistant Manager Steven Howell said. “The local doctors here, the ones who can prescribe, are totally supportive of us. We don’t have enough doctors, in my opinion, who can prescribe, but this is medicine and it does help people.”

Chronic pain is the most treated condition at Curaleaf. Whether it be from a disease, disorder or accident, Curaleaf sees a real success rate for the patients. One of the things that makes Curaleaf unique and helpful to those in upstate New York is the accessibility for patients. There are different levels of THC and CBD in products to treat different conditions, and with a consultation and enough visits, Curaleaf can find the perfect combination of cannabis. 

With its free delivery service, now three days a week, Curaleaf is also able to bring people their products from the border to Glens Falls. Those who sign up for delivery even get discounts on products. The idea is to help those who live too far away from a dispensary, as, according to Howell, there are 500,000 people in New York for every dispensary. 

“It’s all about accessibility for patients,” Howell said. “Everyone is welcome at Curaleaf.”

For more information about the business or how to go about getting a license, Curaleaf has a website, curaleaf.com. The phone number is 518-930-4340. They allow visitors, and pharmacists, who are there every day, will answer any questions someone has.