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NY recreational marijuana law could be 21 and over, taxed, address past convictions

Brett Levin

Residents across New York State have been participating in listening sessions on whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana. Most of the people at the listening sessions support a regulated marijuana program, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

In January, Cuomo solicited a report from the Department of Health which said the pros outweighed the cons of having a regulated marijuana market. Cuomo then announced a Regulated Marijuana Workgroup to look at all of the issues that would need to be addressed in legislation. Alphonso David, counsel to the governor is overseeing the workgroup, and said the public listening sessions will assist them in drafting legislation.

“We want to hear from people that live in all our communities about a regulated marijuana program," David said. "What does it look like? Where should it go? What should be the restrictions, if any? What are the conditions we should think about placing on such a program?”

David said while it is still too soon to draw any detailed conclusions, most people support legalizing marijuana for a variety of reasons.

“Some believe that it is important to do that because other states that are adjacent to New York State are doing that and we have to think about the economic impact that it will have on New York," David said. "Others believe that it is appropriate because of the collateral impact it has had on communities of color.”

David said the program will be limited to adults, 21 years and older. The hope is to advance legislation next year. He said there will be a tax component.

"The tax structure that will be incorporated into the legislation, we're working on that," David said. "The specific details on what that structure will be, we're still refining."

And he said the workgroup is also looking at providing some kind of remedy for those affected by the criminalization of marijuana.

"It is an issue that has been raised by many people," David said. "We are looking at that issue as well."

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.