ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Though lawmakers say the bill legalizing recreational marijuana in New York enjoys popular support, the bill did not pass unanimously. It passed in the Assembly by 100-49, with a few democrats included among the dissenters.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara was one of those “nay” votes. He says his main concerns are public safety and the inability of municipalities to fully opt-out of legalization.

“I’d like our local elected officials to have say over whether they want this to have committed use in their communities or not. I think that should’ve been part of this bill as well,” Santabarbara told NEWS10, “to just give people the option to not take part in this.”

Cities, towns, and villages will, however, be able to opt-out of having dispensaries through a local law that would have to be passed in about nine months.

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, a Democrat, supports the legislation, in part because she says the state’s decriminalization didn’t go far enough to correct inequities associated with marijuana offenses. However, she has concerns.

“We’re going to need to do a lot on education, and we’re going to need to make sure that people, especially if they’re using consumption sites that are being authorized, that it’s the same with the bar. You cannot use or get high and get behind the wheel of a car,” Fahy said.

The Senate voted in favor 40-23, with all Republicans voting against the bill. Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said he can’t support what he calls “deeply flawed legislation.” He says that concerns expressed by public health officials statewide were ignored. He added:

“During the health crisis of our lifetime, we should know better than to dismiss the concerns of our medical experts.”

Rob Ortt
State Senate Minority Leader