The conversation surrounding the legalization of marijuana is coming to the forefront in New York State as the race for governor heats up.

One local district attorney is trying to plan ahead for the regulation and decriminalization of the drug and he wants to hear from the public.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares says neighboring states are decriminalizing and regulating marijuana  and it won’t be long until New York follows suit.

“What are we going to do in the meantime as our leaders develop state laws and regulations,” Soares said.

He’s for legalizing the drug and says it would pump money into the economy and help combat the opioid epidemic.

“The dollars that have been associated with the illicit economy are $3 billion. Marijuana medically is being used as a pain medicine and pain medication.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-83rd District) came out earlier this week saying he’s looking to expunge marijuana crimes from people’s records if and when the drug is legalized.

“Why should people now still be having trouble getting jobs and and having a record for something that now could be legal,” Speaker Heastie said.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says he doesn’t have a problem with decriminalizing and regulating marijuana but he says a big conversation needs to happen.

“You also have ramifications such as DWAIs and things like that.  People can’t just go around and smoke marijuana wherever they want,” Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said.

He sees it being regulated similarly to alcohol.

“I don’t want to see people out in our parks smoking marijuana. I don’t want to see people walking down the street smoking marijuana.”

Both Heastie and Soares say they want potential revenue from the drug to be used properly.

“I think that we should look at ways to spend that money in a productive way,” Speaker Heastie said.

Soares says there needs to be a solid plan to put money back into communities that have been affected by the war on weed and help to create job opportunities.

“Give a kid a job create job opportunities and they will get off the corners.”

Public meetings:

Wednesday, June 6th, 6 p.m
Albany public library
148 Henry Johnson Boulevard, Albany

Monday, June 11th, 6 p.m.
Berne Public Library
1763 Helderberg Trail, Berne

Wednesday, June 13th, 6 p.m.
Guilderland public library
2228 Western Avenue, Guilderland

Monday, June 18th, 6 p.m.
Cohoes Public library
169 Mohawk street #2, Cohoes

Wednesday, June 20th, 6 p.m.
Bethlehem Public Library
451 Delaware Avenue, Delmar

If you can’t make any of those town halls in person, there is an online survey you can take to weigh in.