Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In NY Could Be Delayed

Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In NY Could Be Delayed

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The legalization of recreational marijuana may not come as soon as expected. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo included it in his budget as a way to get it passed, but with the budget deadline just a month away, many officials on the state and local levels are saying they don't believe it will end up in the budget.

"As far as what I'm hearing right now is this will be handled separately," said Scott Gray, chair of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators. 

Last month, Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie said in a tweet he didn't think there was enough time to come up with regulations, deal with economic impact on communities and the criminal justice aspects.

The New York State Association of Counties has been meeting with the state Legislature on this issue and the executive director says he believes conflicting viewpoints are creating gridlock and confusion in Albany.

"There continues to be a reluctance by the state Legislature to take this up in the next four weeks that we have to enact the state budget. It appears to be too comprehensive, too much too soon for the state Legislature," said Stephen Acquario, executive director of New York State Association of Counties. 

While the legislation process continues, local governments want make sure they are heard. 

The Association of Counties is urging the state to increase the local sales tax on marijuana from a proposed 2 percent to 4 percent, which is what counties currently collect on other items. 

The hope is the revenue would offset local governments costs associated with legalization.

"We are reminding the state to include adequate resources, direct taxation back to the affected local governments so we can best serve our communities and protect our people," said Acquario.

Gray says if marijuana is legalized, there will be countywide effects, especially on departments like law enforcement and public health.

"A variety of our departments will be impacted, how to quantify that right now is yet to be seen, but so there will be some financial impacts to the county and whether the 2 percent covers it, probably not," he said.

We reached out to the governor's office on where legalizing marijuana stands and the response we got was that it continues to engage with the Legislature on this proposal. 

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