Cuomo says NY state budget may not include legalization of recreational pot

March 12, 2019 08:11 AM

ALBANY – The debate over whether to legalize adult recreational marijuana use in New York continues. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday it could take longer than he originally planned.

At a press conference at the Capitol where he was discussing the state budget, which is due April 1, he said he is no longer confident legislation to legalize recreational pot will pass with the budget. 


“There is a wide divide on marijuana," said the Democrat. "I believe ultimately we can get there and we must get there."

The proposed legislation would legalize pot for those 21 and older. The governor has estimated it could generated $300 million in tax revenue. Assemblywoman Pat Fahy (D) said Monday passing it with the state budget doesn't leave enough time for lawmakers to get the legislation right.

“I think the more time we have, the better the research is because remember, it's only two states that've really had this for more than a handful of years,” said Fahy.

Fahy said she has two major concerns -- it’s impact on youth and the roadways.

“The fact that we're putting the cart before the horse, the fact that we do not have a breathalyzer, a precise gage of measuring impairment the way we do with alcohol and drunk driving, I think is incredibly distributing,” said Fahy.

While there are concerns over legalizing recreational marijuana, those who support it say it’s time to do it now.

“I think it's a drug that had been you know been demonized not only unfairly but without any true scientific basis,” said David Holland, the Executive and Legal Director of the Empire State Chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

Holland said with 33 state passing some sort of legalization of marijuana, it’s time New York catches up.

“Realize all their surrounding neighbors are already engaging in cannabis related business and it is going to travel over their borders in any event,” said Holland.

Holland said while the legislation in the budget can use some work, he’s still hopeful it can be passed this year.

“I think that it can be perfected a tremendous amount between now and April 1 and we think it could still be voted through and I’m disappointed to think the Governor feels that it could not happen,” said Holland.

Lawmakers could take up legislation on the legalization of recreational marijuana in a separate measure before the session is over in June.


Emily De Vito

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