New York lawmakers could vote to legalize cannabis today

Updated on

New York lawmakers are expected to vote today on whether to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins announced an agreement to legalize recreational use of the drug on Monday.

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Despite that agreement, controversy over the move continues in New York.

Concerns about legalizing cannabis in New York

The Associated Press reports (via ABC 7 NY) that in New York City alone, legalizing cannabis could bring in tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city budget. New Yorkers can possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants at home. Purchases at dispensaries in the state will bring a steep 13% sales tax.

Police and district attorneys are concerned about the legislation to legalize cannabis in New York because they say it doesn't do enough to address the problem of people driving while impaired. There is no roadside test to determine if someone has been using marijuana while driving. The New York State Parent Teacher Association also opposes legalization.

Arguments for and against

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio believes those issues are valid, but he supports legalization because he believes it will "force a different kind of conversation." He argued that young people are smoking marijuana in secret, so he hopes the discussion will be normalized so that they don't "just sneak away and do what they do."

New York PTA Executive Director Kyle Belopkopitsky calls the legislation an "absolute travesty." He noted that all research indicates that legalizing pot will be harmful to children and make the roads less safe. He added that he has "absolutely no idea what the legislature is thinking in thinking they want to advance this right now."

More details on legalizing cannabis in New York

The bill to legalize cannabis in New York must be passed before the state legislature votes on the year's budget, which they are expected to do tomorrow. For the cannabis bill to be part of New York's state budget, it has to be passed and signed by Cuomo by Apr. 1.

If it passes, it will go into effect immediately, although sales won't start until the state makes rules and appoints a cannabis board. Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said last week it could be 18 months to two years before sales of cannabis begin in New York.

Some cannabis stocks were up less than 1%, while others were down by about 1% after the news about New York's legalization of the drug.