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Heated debate over recreational marijuana legalization remains active at state Capitol

June 05, 2019 06:58 PM

As time runs out in this legislative session, arguments over legalizing recreational pot use are heating up at the state Capitol. It comes after Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week he doesn't think there's enough support to pass the measure this session. However, advocates aren't giving up hope.

Both the Assembly and Senate bills are still in committee, so they haven't even been scheduled for a vote yet. However, people both for and against legal recreational pot say if Governor Cuomo decides he wants to get this passed this session, he'll find a way do it.

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Just last week, new versions of the Assembly and Senate bills were introduced. They changed a number of key details. For example, the proposed state tax on marijuana sales was increased, the amount of marijuana an adult would be allowed to possess was decreased and communities negatively affected by marijuana convictions would get priority production and retail licenses.

Some are calling for a joint meeting between the Assembly Senate and the governor's staff. Others are saying there are reasons legislators don't feel comfortable passing this now.

We heard from representatives of a group called Smart Approaches to Marijuana or SAM on Wednesday morning. They expressed health and safety concerns for children and adolescents and pointed to statistics from states like Colorado to support their concerns.

For example, they say the number of fatal crashes involving marijuana-impairment have gone up 151 percent since recreational use in was legalized there. They also say accidental marijuana poisoning calls in children have gone up significantly. However, their biggest concern was that young people would be able to get their hands on marijuana intentionally.

Hear from people both for and against the legalization and why, by watching the video of Emily Burkhard's story.

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Emily Burkhard

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

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