Legalized recreational marijuana a matter of ‘when, not if,’ lawmakers say

Marijuana legalization in NY, NJ

New York is “extremely close” to legalizing recreational marijuana, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told PIX11 Tuesday. “It is a matter of when, not if.”

After years of political negotiations and failed deals, New York’s Assembly, Senate and governor are now all working together on the imminent legalization of recreational marijuana. 

“We’re looking at trying to get it done before we pass the budget,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie explained. 

The current deal will be finalized once lawmakers come to an agreement on a how to officially determine if a person is driving while impaired from marijuana.

Lawmakers have already agreed to address criminal justice concerns in communities of color, “making sure that these communities have the opportunities to really benefit from the economies and the industry that will be created,” Stewart-Cousins said. 

When smoking marijuana becomes legal for adults, Legal Aid Society Attorney Anne Oredeko believes the state should also automatically remove past marijuana convictions from a person’s criminal record. 

“If we don’t have automatic expungement, many people are going to walk around still having that scarlet letter on their backs,” she said. 

A Siena College poll released this week showed 59% of New Yorkers support legalizing recreational marijuana. 

The New York State PTA has vocalized their opposition to legalization, saying marijuana would have a negative impact on young people if they gain access. 

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