Lawmakers still unsure if marijuana package will pass

Deadling approaching for Albany to pass marijuana laws

Mike Baggerman
June 10, 2019 - 3:00 am

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - With only ten days left for the New York State Legislature to pass bills which would legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana, lawmakers remain unsure whether or not they'll get it done.

Recreational marijuana is currently illegal in New York State, though it was widely believed that democrats in Albany could legalize it this year because they control both the Assembly and State Senate. Marijuana laws are expected to pass through the Assembly with relative ease, but because democrats hold a smaller majority in the State Senate, they haven't been able to whip the votes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo quipped on WAMC radio last week that the State Senate couldn't legalize marijuana even if they had ten years to do so.

"I'm relieved (that marijuana will likely not pass)," Republican State Senator Chris Jacobs told WBEN. "The more I look at this issue, the more questions and concerns that I have...I think it's a dangerous policy. What I see in other states is a dramatic increase in emergency room visits from people that have overdosed on marijuana and dramatic increases in accidents and fatalities. We don't even have the ability to identify if someone is under the influence."

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal government resource, there are no reports of teens or adults dying from marijuana alone. The New York Post  reported on a Louisiana woman who may have overdosed on marijuana in February, though the conclusion has drawn skepticism from medical experts.

Assemblywoman Monica Wallace is unsure whether a marijuana package will pass in 2019, saying she hasn't seen a final bill presented but wants to proceed slowly on it.

"Right now it's not a regulated industry so if we're going to (regulate it), we need to proceed cautiously and make sure we don't create more problems than we solve by doing so," she said.

Wallace said marijuana legalization is still an evolving issue. She said she worries about sending signals that marijuana use is okay for kids and even advocated raising the age to purchase marijuana (if legal) to 25.

June 19 is the final day for lawmakers to legalize marijuana this year.

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