NY Senator Says Legal Weed 'Is Not Going To Pass This Session'

June 19, 2019 - 10:04 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Legalizing pot in New York will not happen this legislative session.

That's according to State Sen. Liz Krueger who in a statement said despite getting more "yes" votes, lawmakers have run out of time to pass the bill she sponsored to legalize marijuana.

"This is not the end of the road, it is only a delay," Krueger said Wednesday. "Unfortunately, that delay means countless more New Yorkers will have their lives up-ended by unnecessary and racially disparate enforcement measures before we inevitably legalize."

Krueger says she plans to keep fighting to get it passed.

 "I will continue to push for a tax-and-regulate adult-use program with all the right safeguards in place, one that centers on restorative justice and reinvestment in the communities most harmed by decades of failed prohibition policies," the senator said. "We will build on the success of other states who have chosen to legalize, including many of our neighbors. I have no doubt that prohibition is an outdated and irrational policy, and its days are numbered."

She was hoping lawmakers would pass a separate bill decriminalizing medical marijuana possession and erasing the arrest records of 600,000 mostly black and Latino New Yorkers. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reacted to the news saying, "I understand the desire to end session today as planned, and will give the legislature a message of necessity to expedite passage if required... The time to act is now." 

The New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Melissa Moore, says comprehensive reform would have created 30,000 jobs and could have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue at the state and local level.

"Instead lawmakers decided to leave all that on the table, and frankly, it's pathetic. We actually need leadership and we need the legislature. You know, we've had amazing champions," Moore said.

"I think it's tragic," Jeremy Saunders, co-director of the grassroots group Vocal New York, who fought for passage. "It would've addressed and began to repair the harms of past marijuana arrests and convictions and most importantly it would've led to major reinvestment in communities that had been hardhit and targeted."

WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reports there is still an outside chance of a Plan B bill which has not been made public. It would expunge records for certain past marijuana criminal offenses, make the existing medical marijuana program less regulated and provide new oversight of the growing hemp industry while addressing some lawmakers' concerns about adequate funding for law enforcement, health care and road safety initiatives.