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Cuomo asks for marijuana 'decriminalization' as session winds down

June 19, 2019 06:23 PM

ALBANY - There was a flurry of activity at the state Capitol Tuesday, as lawmakers try to wrap up their session and head home.

A push to legalize recreational marijuana in New York has failed. Supporters say they will try again next year.

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There was a lot of disappointment from lobbyists and lawmakers at the Capitol on Wednesday. Many believed that with a Democratic-controlled Senate and House, this would be the year to get this done, but that is not the case.

Gov. Cuomo released the following statement:

"I said from the beginning of this session that I believed marijuana legalization had the best chance of being passed in this year's budget. Today, the Senate confirmed that it does not have the votes to move forward with legalization.

"I was asked earlier this week on a radio show if I would settle for decriminalization as a backup, and I said I keep fighting and only "tend to give up on hour twenty when there's four hours left in the session".

"We have now reached "hour twenty".

"Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long and it has to end.

"I understand the desire to end session today as planned, and will give the legislature a message of necessity to expedite passage if required. This legislative proposal is not new. I first proposed this decriminalization measure in 2013, and again in this year's budget. The time to act is now."

Governor Cuomo is now urging lawmakers to pass a modified form of the bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession and also address some of the social injustice issues many have said are centered around pot - including expunging past convictions for marijuana-related offenses.

As for the original legalization bill, lawmakers have been working to reach a last-minute agreement with revenues from sales going to education programs and law enforcement, but as the Senate declared Wednesday morning it just didn't have the support.

NewsChannel 13 spoke with members of the Drug Policy Alliance on Wednesday afternoon. They say the modified bills just aren't enough.

Hear reaction by watching Jacquie Slater's story.

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WNYT Staff

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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