MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION HOLD UP

May 04, 2019 at 4:45 am

New Yorkers thought marijuana might be legal in the state by now, why the hold up?

Aired on May 3, 2019. 

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>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.
UP IN SMOKE, LITERALLY.
WITH A PROJECTED $300 MILLION IN
TAX REVENUE FOR THE STATE
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION DID NOT
MOVE FORWARD IN NEW YORK'S
BUDGET.
THE QUESTION IS WHY?
THE ISSUES ARE MANY FOR
ADVOCATES AND OPPONENTS ON BOTH
SIDES AND ANY WAY YOU ROLL IT
THERE IS A CANNABIS CONUNDRUM
CONSUMING THE CAPITAL.
JOIJ US NOW WITH INSIGHT IS ROSS
BARKIN.
WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
LET'S TALK, I GUESS, THE
MARIJUANA OR THE WEED BEAT, IF
YOU WILL.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE POSSIBILITY
OF LEGALIZATION IN NEW YORK
STATE?
>> SO A LOT OF ADVOCATES FOR
LEGALIZATION WERE HOPING THAT
MARK LEGALIZATION WOULD BE IN
THE STATE BUDGET, WHICH WAS JUST
PASSED $177 BILLION BUDGET AND
THE HOPE WAS IT WOULD BE DONE
THERE.
A LOT OF MAJOR POLICY WAS DONE
IN THE STATE BUDGET AND ONCE
IT'S DONE THERE MARIJUANA IS
LEGALIZED IN NEW YORK.
THAT DID NOT HAPPEN FOR A
VARIETY OF REASONS, LEGALIZATION
DID NOT MAKE IT INTO THE BUDGET
SO NOW IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO
PASS IN THE SESSION WHICH WILL
GO UNTIL JUNE.
SO THAT WILL BE A STAND-ALONE
PIECE OF LEGISLATION AND THERE
WILL BE CHALLENGES ACCOMPANYING
THAT.
SO RIGHT NOW FOR ADVOCATES AND
FOR OPPONENTS THE FIGHT REALLY
MOVES TO THESE NEXT THREE MONTHS
WHERE THE FATE OF LEGALIZATION
WILL BE DECIDED.
>> OF COURSE AND THAT IS
INFAMOUSLY KNOWN AS THE BIG UGLY
IN ALBANY.
SO WE'VE HEARD FROM THE PEOPLE
WHO ARE PROPONENTS FOR THIS WHO
ARE SUPPORTERS SAYING THAT WE'RE
GOING TO GET ALL THIS TAX
REVENUE AND ALL THESE GREAT
BUSINESSES THAT CAN COME TO NEW
YORK STATE AND OF COURSE LOOK AT
COLORADO, THEY ARE JUST SWIMMING
IN CASH.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OPPONENTS
SAYING?
>> WELL, THE OPPONENTS COME FROM
A FEW DIFFERENT PLACES.
YOU HAVE LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIONS
WHO ARE AFRAID THAT IT WILL BE
HARDER TO TEST SOMEONE WHO IS
DRIVING WHILE HIGH, YOU HAVE
MEDICAL GROUPS THAT HAVE ALSO
RAISED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE
MEDICAL REASONS FOR NOT SMOKING
MARIJUANA OR THE FEAR THAT MORE
PEOPLE WILL SMOKE IT AND THIS
COULD HAVE AN ADVERSE IMPACT ON
YOUR HEALTH.
YOU ALSO HAVE PTA GROUPS, SO
THERE IS AN EDUCATIONAL
COMPONENT TO THIS, THE FEAR
THERE WILL BE MARIJUANA
PROLIFERATION AMONG YOUNG
PEOPLE.
SO YOU HAVE OPPOSITION COMING
FROM A FEW DIFFERENT SECTORS AND
IT'S POTENT, IT'S REAL, IT'S
REAL SIGNIFICANT AND THEN YOU
HAVE THE LEGISLATORS THEMSELVES,
MANY OF WHOM ARE UNDECIDED.
>> EVEN FOR PEOPLE WHO DO WANT
TO SEE IT LEGALIZED I UNDERSTAND
EVEN SOME OF THOSE LAWMAKERS
HAVE CAVEATS THAT THEY WANT TO
SEE MADE CRYSTAL CLEAR AND
ATTACHED TO THIS LEGISLATION.
PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SEE THINGS
LIKE MAKING SURE THAT THE
INDUSTRY ALSO EMPOWERS THE
COMMUNITIES OF COLOR THAT HAVE
BEEN HIT HARD BY THE LAW
ENFORCEMENT ASPECT OF MARIJUANA,
BUT WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER
ISSUES THAT PEOPLE ARE ALSO
HOLDING OUT ON SAYING I'M NOT
GOING TO VOTE FOR THIS UNLESS
THIS IS IN THE LEGISLATION?
>> WHAT YOU JUST BROUGHT UP IS
CERTAINLY A BIG PART OF THAT IS
CORRECT THE SPEAKER OF THE STATE
ASSEMBLY AND THE SENATE MAJORITY
LEADER ARE BOTH BLACK.
YOU HAVE A LOT OF BLACK
LAWMAKERS WHO ARE CONCERNED JUST
ABOUT THIS ISSUE IN PARTICULAR,
WHICH IS IF WE ARE GOING TO
LEGALIZE WILL
ENTREPRENEURS OF COLOR HAVE
ACCESS TO THE MARKET.
THERE HAVE BEEN CONCERNS IN
OTHER STATES WHERE IT'S MOSTLY
WEALTHY WHITE ENTREPRENEURS WHO
HAVE COME IN AND REALLY MADE A
KILLING OFF OF MARIJUANA
LEGALIZATION.
THOSE MINORITY WOMEN-OWNED
BUSINESSES WHO WOULD LIKE ACCESS
TO SUCH A MARKET AREN'T REALLY
GETTING MUCH ACCESS.
OF COURSE, YOU HAVE THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE COMPONENT WHICH IS FOR A
LONG TIME WE'VE SEEN
DISPROPORTIONATE ARRESTS FOR
MARIJUANA POSSESSION HAVE BEEN
OF PEOPLE OF COLOR.
WE KNOW MARIJUANA IS CONSUMED
ILLEGALLY ACROSS RACIAL
DEMOGRAPHICS, BUT ARRESTS REALLY
HAVE TARGETED PEOPLE OF COLOR.
SO THE QUESTION IS HOW DO WE
FIND SOME WAY TO RECTIFY THAT
AND ALSO WILL SOME OF THE
REVENUE RAISED FROM LEGALIZATION
GO TO THESE COMMUNITIES, EITHER
TO JOB RETRAINING PROGRAMS, TO
SOME TYPE OF EQUITY FUND.
SO THESE ARE THE OUTSTANDING
DETAILS.
>> WE'VE TALKED ABOUT
LEGISLATORS, BUT THE EXECUTIVE
IN THIS STATE SEEMS TO HAVE HAD
AN ABOUT FACE ON THE ISSUE OF
MARIJUANA.
OF COURSE, NEITHER ONE OF US IS
IN HIS HEAD, BUT WHY THE CHANGE
OF HEART?
>> SO ANDREW CUOMO THE GOVERNOR
FOR A LONG TIME WAS AN OPPONENT
OF LEGALIZATION, HE FOR YEARS
CALLED IT A GATEWAY DRUG, WHICH
NO -- THERE IS NO -- NO EVIDENCE
OR SCANT EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT
THAT SMOKING MARIJUANA WILL MEAN
YOU SUDDENLY DO HARDER DRUGS,
BUT THIS IS A VIEW HELD BY A LOT
OF PEOPLE, INCLUDING THE
GOVERNOR FOR A LONG TIME.
I PERSONALLY THINK HE SHIFTED
FOR A FEW REASONS, ONE, HE SAW
THE ISSUES INCREASINGLY POPULAR,
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
CONSISTENTLY POLLS WELL, AND
SECONDLY HIS PRIMARY LAST YEAR
CYNTHIA NIXON THE ACTRESS RAN A
PRIMARY AGAINST HER -- AGAINST
HIM, SHE DID NOT WIN, BUT SHE
WAS A STAUNCH SUPPORTER OF
LEGALIZATION AND I'M SURE THE
GOVERNOR TOOK NOTE OF THAT.
SO YOU HAVE THE WINDS SHIFTING,
HE'S SOMEONE WHO HAS ALWAYS
WANTED TO BE PERCEIVED AS A
PROGRESSIVE LEADER AND SO IT'S
HARD TO BE A, QUOTE/UNQUOTE,
PROGRESSIVE LEADER LEADING ONE
OF THE LARGEST STATES IN
AMERICA, AT THE SAME TIME BEING
AGAINST LEGALIZATION OF
MARIJUANA.
SO I DO BELIEVE THE POLITICAL
CURRENTS HAVE CHANGED AND HE HAS
CHANGED WITH THEM AND HE APPEARS
TO BE EARNEST ABOUT GETTING THIS
DONE.
HE SEES IT AS PART OF HIS
LEGACY.
>> OKAY.
BECAUSE THAT WAS GOING TO BE THE
OTHER QUESTION SINCE THIS ISN'T
MAKE IT INTO THE BUDGET AND OF
COURSE THIS REALLY LEAVES THE
POSSIBILITY OF LEGALIZATION IN A
VERY PRECARIOUS PLACE, IS THERE
A SENSE OF URGENCY, BECAUSE,
AGAIN, WHEN YOU HAVE AS MUCH AS
$300 MILLION IN TAX REVENUE
POTENTIALLY ON THE LINE AND
OTHER STATES, I MEAN, WE'VE SEEN
LEGALIZATION, I BELIEVE, IN
MASSACHUSETTS HAPPENING, IS
THERE AN URGENCY IN ALBANY TO
GET THIS DONE BEFORE NEARBY
STATES --
>> I THINK THERE IS CERTAINLY
AMONG A LOT OF LEGISLATORS THIS
URGENCY.
HOW HARD WILL CUOMO PUSH FOR
THIS.
THAT IS THE MILLION DOLLAR
QUESTION, IT'S ALWAYS THE
QUESTION OF ANDREW CUOMO BECAUSE
HE WILL SUPPORT THINGS, HE WILL
QUIETLY WITHDRAW SUPPORT IF HE
SEES IT'S SOFTER, IF HE DOESN'T
SEE THE POTENTIAL FOR VICTORY.
SO ON THE EXECUTIVE FRONT IT'S
TO BE DETERMINED.
I DO THINK A LOT OF THE MORE
PROGRESSIVE LEGISLATORS DO WANT
TO GET THIS DONE IN THE NEXT FEW
MONTHS.
YOU HAVE I BELIEVE IT'S TEN
OTHER STATES HAVE LEGALIZED
MARIJUANA.
IT'S A REVENUE SOURCE, IT'S A
CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUE.
THERE'S ALSO THE FEAR THAT IF
IT'S NOT DONE NOW IT WILL BE
HARDER NEXT YEAR BECAUSE STATE
LEGISLATORS ARE ELECTED EVERY
TWO YEARS, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE
VERY COMPETITIVE ELECTIONS IN
2020, THERE ARE STATE SENATORS
PARTICULARLY THOSE IN THE
SUBURBS WHERE THE LAW
ENFORCEMENT UNIONS ARE VERY
POWERFUL WHO ARE SKITTISH ABOUT
THIS.
THERE IS A BILL RIGHT NOW IN THE
LEGISLATURE TO LEGALIZE
MARIJUANA, IT HAS 15
CO-SPONSORS, NONE OF THEM ARE
FROM LONG ISLAND, THERE'S SIX
LONG ISLAND DEMOCRATS OUT THERE,
THERE ARE ALSO OTHER SUBURBAN
LAWMAKERS AND UPSTATE LAWMAKERS
WHO HAVE YET TO SIGN ON.
SO FOR ADVOCATES THE QUESTION
REALLY IS IF WE DON'T GET IT
DONE NOW, WILL IT BE EVEN HARDER
IN 2020?
>> I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR JOINING US AND OF COURSE FOR
STAYING ON THE STORY LINE.
I'M SURE IT'S NOT OFFICIALLY THE
WEED BEAT, BUT WHATEVER IT IS --
>> CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT.
>> -- IT IS DEFINITELY GOING TO
BE AN IMPORTANT STORY TO
CONTINUE FOLLOWING TO THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
§

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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