Gov. Andrew Cuomo took another step toward legalizing marijuana in New York, announcing a 20-person work group to draft legislation allowing for recreational use by adults, the Wall Street Journal reports. The announcement came after a state health department study that addressed the effects of pot legalization on public health, the economy and the criminal justice system. The report concluded that the positive effects of a regulated marijuana market would outweigh the potential negatives. Lawmakers and advocates have been working on marijuana legislation in the past year. Senate Bill S3040, otherwise known as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, was introduced in early 2017 and proposes legalization. The measure is still in the Senate Finance Committee.
David Holland of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Empire State NORML, said: “We’re not aware yet of all the different aspects that the governor is considering, but we look forward to reviewing them and making ourselves available to him for guidance in this area.” The organization has worked closely with lawmakers to draft the bill now in committee, and is cautiously optimistic about the governor’s work group. The state legislature legalized medical marijuana in 2014 and expanded the law last year to make the drug more convenient for patients to use. Sen. Diane Savino, who sponsored the 2014 medical-marijuana legislation, said legalizing recreational pot could have economic and social benefits for the state. Cuomo, who is running for a third term, has advocated for the softening of marijuana-related crimes for years. Marijuana investors have been among his biggest campaign contributors.