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Marijuana advocates making one last push for legalization

June 16, 2019 11:32 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) —Ten states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana recreationally, could New York State be next?

Steve Vandewalle, Deputy Chief of marijuana advocacy group Roc NORML, supports the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

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"This is objectively the best comprehensive cannabis bill because New Yorkers were asked what they want," said Vandewalle. "This is a bill crafted by New Yorkers."

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate and Assembly leaders have been in closed door discussions about the bill throughout the weekend hoping to agree on a final version for public review before the 2019 legislative session ends.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act would end prohibition, clearing prior weed-related criminal records and setting aside funds for research, while directing tax revenue from legal marijuana sales to be reinvested into communities and more.

"It is imperative that a significant amount of the revenue that comes from legalized marijuana go back into the communities impacted most by the war on drugs," said Vandewalle.

Jim Wesley is a former crime lab scientist, if passed he believes the marijuana legislation must also consider law enforcement and impaired driving.

"If marijuana is legalized, wouldn't you think people would stop drinking alcohol or slow it down or just go with weed?" said Wesley. "Well they drink and smoke weed then you have the double whammy."

Data shows in states where marijuana is legal there are increases in driving fatalities. 

Wesley says officers would need the tools to detect drivers impaired by marijuana.

"You should never drive after you've smoked marijuana for 4-6 hours," said Wesley. "Now if you ate it, it's like 8-10 hours."

But Vandewalle says in legalized states there are more positives than negatives

"Not only do these states that legalize not burn to the ground, but they thrive."

Credits

Kaci Jones

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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