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Push continues to keep legal pot out of state budget

State News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Members of school organizations and law enforcement are urging the New York State Senate and Assembly to oppose marijuana legalization in this year’s budget.

“Let’s work with our neighbors, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, to coordinate a safe and fair system, and let’s legalize adult use of marijuana.”

During his state of the state address in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo advocated for including marijuana legalization in the budget. But some members of law enforcement aren’t on board.

“We take an oath as the sheriff of our respective county to keep our people safe, and we feel strongly that by legalizing marijuana our communities will be less safe,” Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said.

Opponents say a legalized market will favor “profit over people” and make schools less safe.

“We’re no more prepared today than we were this time last year for the legalization of marijuana,” Rural Schools Association of NYS Executive Director David Little said. “In order to protect our children in school, we need to do certainly more than we did when we legalized cigarettes, when we legalized alcohol.”

Last year, lawmakers didn’t come to an agreement on legalization during the budget process. Instead, they later passed a decriminalization measure.

“We know that they try to do as much as they can in the New York State budget because it’s very hard to take a no budget vote,” Kyle McCauley Belokopitsky, NYS PTA Executive Director, said. “That’s our ask. Our ask is that to the legislature, do not, you have to push this to get this out of this budget. This is a meaningful conversation that has to happen. It cannot be a part of the budget.”

Last month, Sen. Liz Krueger laid out her amended Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act proposal, which would put 25 percent of marijuana revenue collected towards preventing substance abuse.

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