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Cuomo proposes study on legalizing marijuana in $168B budget plan

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to form a panel to study the legalization of marijuana as part of his $168 billion state budget proposal.

Cuomo referred to marijuana as a “gateway drug” less than a year ago and, at the time, announced continued opposition to recreational marijuana. His new study would determine the health impact, economic impact, criminal justice impact and consequences of legalization to New York.

The proposed budget implements “bold progressive policies to make New York a more just and fair state for all,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This bold agenda charts a path forward toward a better future for all New Yorkers.”

NY Gov. Cuomo unveils budget plan, calls for tax changes

Neighbor New Jersey may be close to legalizing pot. Gov. Phil Murphy supports legalization and pledged to make it happen in his first 100 days in office. Eight other states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. It remains illegal under federal law.

Advocates for legalization say the tax revenue could be a huge boost to New York’s economy. The New York State Assembly recently held a hearing on legalizing and regulating marijuana. Doctors at the hearing said studies show legal marijuana can reduce opioid abuse.

Michael Long, the head of the New York State Conservative Party, vowed that the party will do everything in their power to oppose any legalization legislation.