Recreational Marijuana

Photo by Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group/TNS/Sipa USA

Senate, Assembly Leaders Discuss Marijuana Legalization

June 17, 2019 - 3:00 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Senate and Assembly leaders sat down with the governor's office Monday to discuss the legalization of marijuana in New York.

Several lawmakers say the most critical part of the bill is reinvestment in communities of colors.

They want to see tax revenue go to these communities targeted by marijuana enforcement. 

"Our communities and our people of color cannot wait. We need that to pass this year," said one of the supporters who rallied outside.

A recent Sienna poll found 55 percent of voters support legalizing recreational marijuana. But there has been pushback from law enforcement who believe the legalization of marijuana is complicated.

"I'm concerned about the black and the gray market, I'm concerned about under 21, I'm concerned about smoking in public," says Police Commissioner James O'Neill. " If it's legal, there's no state where it's legal to still smoke outside."

Following the meeting, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was “cautiously optimistic” over the chances of making recreational use of marijuana legal in New York.

He said what’s currently being negotiated is the question of locality.

“What is the right of the locality? Does the locality have a voice in the decision? In other words, does New York State say Yonkers must do this or Westchester must do this,” Cuomo explained.

He noted that legalization remains very controversial in some sections of the state and lawmakers are debating the option of allowing towns, villages, cities or even whole counties to opt in or out.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on the subject on Twitter, saying, "With only a few days left this session in Albany, we have a small window to legalize marijuana the RIGHT way."

He went on to explain what he thought the "right way" was.

Gov. Cuomo would have to order a message of necessity in order to suspend the constitutions' requirement of a three-day public review of all bills.