New York Legislature Hears Arguments For Marijuana Legalization

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ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – As part of his State of the State, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to legalize recreational marijuana under the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act. In a hearing on Wednesday, a committee of health and policy experts testified before the state legislature about the efficacy of the bill.

Alphonso Davis testifying on the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act.

According to the committee, marijuana legalization makes sense for a few different reasons: One, it’s already happening throughout the country, and in Canada. Two, there are already medical marijuana and hemp markets in New York. Three, it costs a lot of money to arrest, prosecute, and jail people who buy and sell marijuana. And four, the illegal market makes drugs accessible to kids.

Alphonso Davis, Counsel to the Governor, said, “Taking no action and maintaining the status is simply no longer sustainable.”

The bill would wrangle the three cannabis industries — medical, recreational, and help — and regulate them under the Office of Cannabis Management.

Questions from state representatives focused on the structure and regulation of legalization, but also on its impact on law enforcement, disenfranchised communities, and farm workers in New York.

The governor hopes to pass the bill along with the state budget in April. Speaker Carl Heastie has expressed concern, tweeting the short time frame “may not be enough time to come up with regulations.”