New York Voters Support Legalizing Marijuana

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As Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes funding a study to examine whether the state should legalize marijuana, a new poll found a majority of New York voters support allowing the recreational use of the drug.

The Siena College poll released Monday found 56 percent of New York voters surveyed support legalizing recreational marijuana. Two-thirds of Democrats and 57 percent of independents are supportive, while 57 percent of Republicans oppose the idea.

A majority of voters from New York City (60 percent), the downstate suburbs (55 percent) and upstate (52 percent) back legalizing marijuana.

There is an age disparity in the level of support for recreational marijuana, according to Siena pollster Steve Greenberg.

“Voters 55 and older are closely divided, while three-quarters of voters under 35 support legalization,” Greenberg said.

In New York, medical marijuana is legal and strictly regulated. But the recreational use of the drug isn’t permitted.

Other states have either legalized recreational marijuana. It is legal in Maine and Massachusetts. In the western U.S., recreational use is legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

In neighboring New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy has called for legalizing recreational marijuana.

Cuomo hasn’t been supportive when asked in the past about allowing the recreational use of marijuana. But he announced the study, which will be led by the state Department of Health and include the state police, in his 2018-19 executive budget address.

The study, he said, would focus on the economic and health impacts of legalizing recreational marijuana.

“This is an important topic, it’s a hotly debated topic … and it’d be nice to have some facts in the middle of the debate once in a while,” Cuomo said in January.