NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The bill to legalize marijuana in New York, which seems to have more lives than a cat, appears to be on life support. Lawmakers are focusing instead on a bill to expunge the records of tens of thousands previously convicted.
In Albany, the bill to legalize recreational marijuana is now known in some circles as the “zombie bill,” the bill that would never die. Even as sources in both the Senate and the Assembly told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer it is unlikely to pass, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is unwilling to give up the fight. He keeps pushing for passage, but even he seemed to have misgivings.
“I don’t know. Different people say different things on the number of members who are ready support it, so I don’t know. That is still a question mark,” Cuomo said on an Albany radio station on Tuesday morning.
Sources said negotiations bogged down over a number of issues, including whether localities that don’t want to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana could opt out and refuse to do it, and how to spend the $300 million generated by taxes on the sale of marijuana.
Cuomo had wanted all the money to go into the general fund, sources said, while others wanted it to go to communities impacted by marijuana arrests. On Tuesday, he seemed to soften his stance.
“I support the concept that the communities that have paid the highest price socially and demographically and economically should now share in the revenue,” the governor said.
That said, sources told Kramer that the lawmakers are now focusing their efforts on a bill to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and expunge the records of those who previously were arrested.
The bill would erase the arrest records of up to 600,000 New Yorkers — mostly black and Latino — charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Again, while sources in both the Senate and the Assembly said legalizing recreation marijuana wont happen, the end of legislative session in Albany is a strange time. Things declared dead can sometimes rise from the ashes.