NYS Exposed: Lawmakers On Marijuana Legalization

Photo Credit: Michael Porro

In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo sparked the debate about legalizing recreational marijuana in New York by asking New York State’s Health Department to study its impact.

“It would be nice to have some facts in the middle of the debate,” stated Cuomo.

Last month, Governor Cuomo said he expected the study to be released ‘in just days’ but weeks later, the state’s health department will only say that they’re still working on it.

Cuomo adds, “If the facts are that surrounding states have all legalized it and everyone is just driving to New Jersey or Massachusetts and coming right back and it’s here anyway, then what are you accomplishing?”

Currently, nine states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. This year, Vermont became the first to legalize it through legislation. That’s how it would have to work in New York.

There’s legislation to do that in both the assembly and the Senate. But how do our local lawmakers feel about legalizing the drug?

Assemblyman David Gantt was the only one that told News10NBC that he believed it was time to legalize recreational marijuana. He points to social justice issues.

But fellow Assemblyman Oaks, Kolb, Hawley. and Lawrence all said they’d vote ‘no.’

Assemblyman Lawrence, a former law enforcement officer, calls it a “gateway drug that leads to more dangerous substance abuse.”

Majority leader Joe Morelle echoed the governor’s opinion. He wants to see the Department of Health’s study first before he makes a decision.

Assemblymen Harry Bronson, Mark Johns, and Joe Errigo all failed to respond.

In the state Senate, Senators Gallivann, Ranzenhofer, and Helming all said ‘no’ to legalizing recreational marijuana.

Senator Joe Robach says it’s an issue that should be put up to a public vote. Rob Ortt failed to respond and Rich Funke declined to provide his stance.

But with just two weeks left in the legislative session and no study from the department of health, it appears unlikely the issue will be brought this year.

Even so, it doesn’t appear to have much support locally.