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Recreational pot legalization in NY might not make budget

February 02, 2019 08:57 PM

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said legalizing recreational marijuana is one of his top priorities this year. However, legislators in the governor’s own party are unsure about his timeline.

“I'm not a betting man but if I was betting its 50, 50 right now,” said Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald on whether the legislature will vote on the matter in 2019.

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On Friday on public radio, Cuomo said he’s confident the legislature can vote to legalize it as part of the state budget due April 1. However, on Thursday Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said it doesn’t seem like that gives them enough time to come up with regulations.

“The budget itself is complex, $175 billion spending plan there’s a lot of moving parts,” said McDonald.

Assemblyman McDonald said he also still has many unanswered questions when it comes to legalizing recreational marijuana.

“I have concerns about is impaired driving going to increase what's that going to mean for all of us on the roads, is there going to be an increase in crime because it's a cash business?” explained McDonald.

McDonald said there’s also something else to consider.

“I've noticed talking to my constituents no matter what side of the aisle they're on they realize that decriminalization of marijuana needs to be a discussion now,” said McDonald. “Whether we do that ahead of the legalization aspect I'm not really sure."

With surrounding states like Massachusetts and Vermont legalizing recreational marijuana, McDonald said it’s not a matter of it it’ll happen in New York but when. However he said the conversation on it should be able to continue to happen before April 1.

“If it's going to have a financial impact then it needs to be negotiated in the budget,” said McDonald. “Interestingly enough, the way it's been proposed this year by the governor, it does have a financial impact but it's not until next year so it really doesn't have a major impact in this year's budget that we're considering."

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Emily De Vito

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