NY lawmakers revisiting legalizing recreational marijuana

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new bill to legalize recreational marijuana is in the works at the state capitol.

This, after the issue was dropped from the state budget last month.

Legalizing marijuana in New York State would foster a new industry and source of tax revenue.

“As we look at creating a new industry we want to make sure we learn from others who have already done it and there has always been the conversation about communities that have been impacted by the previous prosecution of this very same product,” Andrea Stewart-Cousins, NYS Senate Majority Leader, said.

As the session winds down, there’s a new push from Senator Liz Krueger (D-District 28) to get legislation passed.

The bill which hasn’t been introduced yet would regulate, tax, and create licensing requirements for recreational use.

It would also expand medicinal use of the drug, and regulate hemp products for humans.

“There’s the CBD hemp piece, the medical piece, and the adult recreational piece. Of course within the adult recreational piece, there’s also removal of criminal penalties for quantities below a certain weight for personal use of cannabis as well as a section that would expunge or clean the records of people who have been caught up in substance and marijuana arrest in a prior point in time,” Krueger said.

If passed, up to 300,000 New Yorkers could have records sealed or expunged.

“People in New York who were caught up in criminal justice because they were caught with a couple of joints in their pocket or some cannabis seeds in their backpack.”

Other lawmakers say they won’t support the legalization of marijuana without a test for impairment.

Until we can measure impairment in terms of a breathalyzer, I don’t see how we can responsibly legalize it,” Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R-112th District) said.

Walsh says there are public safety concerns.

“I know that the thrill of possibly taxing this and pulling in all kinds of tax money, I think is what’s driving a lot of this discussion and I think there’s a feeling of ‘we don’t want to be the last state.’ Well, we wouldn’t be the last state.”

The bill is expected to be introduced Friday, or early next week.

The Columbia County Department of Health is urging county leaders to ban sales of marijuana for recreational use in municipalities if the state legislation goes through.

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