ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Nearby states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey have already legalized marijuana. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would like New York to do the same, and he’s hoping legislation for adult-use recreational marijuana will be passed by April 1.
A tentative three-way agreement has been reached by lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana. The agreement has not been made public, yet, but it is expected to include a 9% sales tax that would go to the state and an additional 4% sales tax that would go to localities.
“When the bill gets passed and cannabis for adult use gets legalized and prohibition falls, it’s going to be a huge win for New Yorkers,” said Kaelan Castetter, CEO of Empire Standard. “We are talking about over 50,000 jobs created all over New York—billions of dollars in opportunities in the marketplace here. And I think this is just a necessary step to right some of the wrongs of the past eight decades or so of prohibition.”
However, not everyone is seeing this as a win. The New York State Sheriff’s Association is vocally opposed. Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol worries about the sale of marijuana on the black market—and stated people might be more inclined to avoid paying the sales tax. But that’s not his only concern.
“When you look at the amount of people who are injured and fatally killed in car crashes with operators who are under the influence of marijuana, like I said, the numbers are staggering,” said Sheriff Maciol.
Research from the AAA foundation found an estimated 8.8% of drivers of drivers involved in fatal crashes were positive for THC between 2008 and 2012 in Washington State—five years before marijuana became legalized. The rate later increased to 18% between 2013 and 2017.
In an interview on Tuesday, New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins addressed the matter.
“The impaired driving issue is extremely important and being able to make sure that we are able to identify that and make steps towards that,” stated Stewart-Cousins. “Whether that’s making sure there’s more training, or investing in some sort of research to get us to a place where we are able to detect marijuana use at the current time, not some time in the past is what is extremely important to us.”
When asked about driving under the influence, Castetter said people are already doing it.
“By legalizing adult use cannabis, you’re giving consumers greater access to understand what’s exactly in their cannabis product, and how it will affect them. And it will allow them to use more responsibly,” said Castetter.
NEWS10 ABC is told that the assembly majority leader is hoping that the bill will soon go to print with a vote to take place by this time next week.