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New York looking to cash in on legal marijuana

Lynette Adams
Created: January 22, 2020 07:09 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We're getting reaction to a renewed push to make weed legal for all adults in New York state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out his plan in his new budget proposal, but what is new this year after last year's effort came up short?

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For starters, lawmakers may be coming around to the idea as they watch the windfall in other states from taxing weed.

Some states bordering New York, like Massachusetts, have legalized adult use of cannabis and Empire State could be losing out on the hundreds of thousands of dollars New Yorkers are spending in the Bay State to buy legal weed.

"If you just go to Massachusetts and look at the number of New York State license plates that are at their dispensaries, it might be an indication that some of our elected people across the state are changing their minds," Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said. 

Lawmakers are doing their homework. Democratic state Senator Pete Harckham, of New York’s 40th District who represents portions of Westchester County, visited Massachusetts and talked to police, school officials, and community leaders. He learned that in some cases, half of the consumers at dispensaries are from New York. 

Harckham had been against legalizing weed, but he now says he would support it.

"The question is, what do we do with the revenue? That's really the last piece of this that needs to be resolved," Harckham said. "I support the Krueger Bill where 25% goes to treatment, prevention, and education."

Another difference this year is that Cuomo has created an administrative structure to oversee, control, and regulate marijuana. 

The governor has proposed taxing it at a rate of 20% statewide and 22% in New York City. He proposed coordinating with New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania to create what he calls a "safe and fair system."

He says legal cannabis could bring in $300 million a year in tax revenue as the state grapples with closing a $6 billion deficit and create thousands of jobs.


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