New York's Health Department Plans to Recommend Legalizing Marijuana
ALBANY — A study commissioned by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will recommend that “a regulated, legal marijuana program be available to adults in the state,” the New York State health commissioner said on Monday.
The announcement by the commissioner, Howard Zucker, comes after a fast evolution in the thinking of Mr. Cuomo, a second-term Democrat who said as recently as last year that marijuana was a “gateway drug.”
In more recent months, however, Mr. Cuomo has said that “facts have changed” around the drug, and in January he commissioned a report with the mission of determining the consequences from legalization efforts in New Jersey and Massachusetts, and “what would that do to New York because it’s right in the middle.”
“We looked at the pros, we looked at the cons, and when were done, we realized that the pros outweighed the cons,” Mr. Zucker said, adding, “We have new facts.”
Mr. Zucker said that the report, which has not been finalized or released, had brought together “experts from all across the government,” as well as “outside stakeholders” with interest in public safety, public health, and economics, including taxation. He said that group had considered a wide range of issues — including the age of allowed use, impaired driving, and production and distribution — and concluded that legal marijuana could be done statewide.
Mr. Zucker made his remarks to reporters after making an announcement in Brooklyn that was finalizing regulations to allow those using or abusing prescription opioids to qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program.
Mr. Cuomo, 60, has been saying for weeks that the report from the Health Department would be done for several weeks, but on Monday his office said only that they would “review the report when we receive it.”
Mr. Zucker said the report would come out “soon,” adding that “the governor had