The Associated Press
(AP) — New York would become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults under a proposal unveiled Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The measure would permit personal use as well as retail sales of the drug. Marijuana taxes would raise an estimated $300 million a year, Cuomo said. Cities and counties could prohibit retail pot shops within their boundaries if they choose.
“The time for talking is over,” Cuomo said in the speech. “It is the time for doing.”
Removing penalties for recreational marijuana has broad support in the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly. Cuomo inserted the measure into his $175 billion state budget proposal, which lawmakers plan to act on by April 1.
Two years ago Cuomo dismissed marijuana as a “gateway drug” but now says he supports legalization following a study by state health officials who determined the benefits of legalization outweigh the risks. The governor’s change of opinion mirrors a similar evolution across the country. If New York follows through with legalizing marijuana it would be the 10th state and the second largest after California to take the step.
The proposal comes with a plan to seal past marijuana convictions, a provision lawmakers like Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, have said must be a part of the discussion.
Cuomo’s proposal would not allow individuals to grow their own marijuana; recreational users would be required to purchase the product at a store. That’s a restriction not included in some of the other initial legalization proposals from lawmakers.
“We’re going to need to see details,” said Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome. “If you’re going to do this, you should do it right. Take a look at what other states have done, and learn from them.”
AP Photo/Hans Pennink