North Country lawmakers remain opposed to NY pot bill

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 5:01 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - Governor Andrew Cuomo this week said he wants New York to be the 15th state to legalize marijuana, but North Country lawmakers remain opposed to the proposal. Kelly O’Brien spoke with locals to hear their thoughts on the idea.

Governor Andrew Cuomo this week said legalized marijuana could be the answer for the state’s hurting economy. “I think this should have been passed years ago,” he said. “I think too many people have been imprisoned, incarcerated, and punished. Too many of those people are Black, Latino, or poor.” Cuomo says with the pandemic pushing the state’s budget $15 billion in the hole, the proposal could be a way to pick the economy back up.

State officials admit that it will take years for the industry to rake in some serious green. “By the time it’s fully effective, under our proposal, you’ll get about 300 million dollars a year,” said Robert Mujica, Cuomo’s budget director.

Many people we spoke to in Plattsburgh said that are standing with the governor. “The local economy could definitely use a boost. It’s been done in other states like Colorado, Maine, Washington, California. I don’t see why New York shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon,” said Mike Ward of Au Sable Forks.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Kyle Sears of Tupper Lake, who says his family has seen how medical marijuana helped his mother, Erica. “She’s a lot better off. They did put her on some prescribed pain killers and the result was horrible. This was a lot better alternative and it had a lot more positive all-around effects.”

“I’m on it for pain management -- and it helps a lot. It helps a lot with my pain management,” added Erica.

But North Country lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say it’s not a good move for the state. “I’m opposed to it. I think it will introduce more negatives than positives. Whatever positives that it introduces from a revenue standpoint, I’m not convinced is enough to move the needle. I think it will end up costing us as much as it may bring in,” said Sen. Dan Stec/R-Queensbury.

Stec and Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, point out the local recovery and law enforcement communities are against legal marijuana sales, saying it will cause more problems than it will solve. “Our law enforcement officers still do not have accurate mechanisms to see if people are impaired by marijuana when people are driving our streets or our roads, so I do have some real issues with that,” Jones said.

Regardless of their position, Both Stec and Jones say they think the measure will pass in Albany.

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