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NY lawmaker says deal 'imminently close' on pot legalization

Brett Levin

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers are finalizing an agreement to legalize recreational marijuana sales to adults over the age of 21, a state legislative leader said Wednesday.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the chamber, said the bill is being drafted and will likely be brought up for a vote next week.

“An agreement is imminently close, we hope to resolve any final bill language issues over the next few days as we await the final print version of the bill to vote on next week,” Peoples-Stokes told The Associated Press in a statement.

New York has come close to passing marijuana legalization several times in recent years, but has been unable to finalize a deal. At least 14 states have legalized recreational marijuana.

Past sticking points for legalization in New York have included lack of support from suburban Democrats and concerns over how to address drivers suspected of driving high. It was unclear Wednesday evening how any agreement would address impaired driving.

Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who supports legalization, have also been at odds over how to handle marijuana sales tax revenue and how much of a projected windfall should go to communities of color impacted by the decades-long drug war.

Cuomo’s office has estimated that, once a legal marijuana industry is fully mature, it could bring the state about $350 million annually.

The Democrat said Wednesday he hoped an agreement was close and that legalization was a priority for him this year.