Health department to call for marijuana legalization
Updated 6:23 pm, Monday, June 18, 2018
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A long-awaited report on marijuana will recommend that New York legalizes the drug, the state’s top health official said Monday.
While the report has not yet been finalized, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said its authors reached their conclusion after a thorough review of the legal, medical and social implications of legalization.
“We looked at the pros, we looked at the cons,” Zucker told reporters at an appearance in Brooklyn. “When we were done we realized that the pros outweighed the cons.”
Zucker’s boss, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has long expressed concerns about legalization, last year calling marijuana a “gateway drug.” He has since softened his stance and ordered the legalization study earlier this year amid pressure from legalization supporters, including his Democratic primary opponent, “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon.
Do not count on legal weed in the Big Apple just yet, however. Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year this week, suggesting it will be 2019 at the earliest before legalization is considered in Albany.
The growing list of states that have moved to legalize recreational marijuana use includes California, Colorado and two of New York’s neighbors, Vermont and Massachusetts.
Several Democrats including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Nixon have said any legalization effort in New York must be accompanied by proposals to expunge the criminal records of thousands of people arrested for possessing small amounts of the drug dating back decades.
Individuals on all sides of the marijuana debate said they wanted to hear more about what Cuomo’s administration plans to propose.
John Coppola, the executive director of the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers said legalization must incorporate efforts to prevent underage abuse and educate the