New York State marijuana debate

Local News

ALBANY, NY – Last session New York lawmakers passed legislation decriminalizing low level marijuana offenses.

But, they stopped short of legalizing cannabis for recreational use.

With just two months away from the start of session, NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca looks into what some of the risks and rewards could be.

A recent Siena College poll of 742 New York voters showed 54 percent of those who participated supported legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, while 41 percent opposed it. And a big factor was age.

((Steven Greenberg, Siena College Pollster))
Among voters 35 and under 81 percent support legalizing recreational use of marijuana in New York, but voters 55 and older they oppose it by a margin of 54 to 41 percent.

Last month Governor Andrew Cuomo held a Regional Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit along with officials from other states to discuss market regulation, public health and safety principles.

The Drug Policy Alliance’s New York Deputy Director Melissa Moore said in a statement that a licensed and regulated market:
“… could incentivize small businesses and family-sale farmers, encouraging entrepreneurial efforts in small towns and rural areas, as well as disproportionately impacted communities.”

But, not everyone is on board.
The group Smart Approaches to Marijuana was supportive of the decriminalization bill that was signed into law by the Governor.

But, they oppose what they call a “new predatory addiction for profit industry,” especially in the wake of reports of vaping illnesses.

((Luke Niforatos, SAM Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor))
basically what we see is a new big tobacco industry an industry that pushes marijuana candies and gummies and now we have a huge marijuana crisis going on across the country and that’s a huge concern.

One group with a nuanced position on legalization is the New York Farm Bureau.

((Steve Ammerman, NYFB Public Affairs Manager))
We are not out there advocating for the recreational use of marijuana, but if it should be come law then we believe our farmers should have input in how it’s grown and the ability to grow it as well.

Last year some lawmakers initially pushed to include marijuana legalization in the state budget, it was dropped when they couldn’t come to an agreement.

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