‘Wide divide’ might delay New York vote on recreational marijuana until 2020

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s “no longer confident” an agreement to legalize recreational marijuana in New York will be included in the state budget that’s due by April 1, raising the possibility the state Legislature won’t approve retail sales of cannabis this year.

There are just too many details on legalization that must be agreed upon, the governor said.

“There is a wide divide on marijuana,” Cuomo said. “I believe ultimately we can get there. I believe we must get there. I don’t believe we get there in two weeks.”

Lawmakers could take up legalization in separate measures before they adjourn in June, though it could be more politically challenging for some to vote yes if the measure isn’t linked to the budget.

Rising concerns voiced by such groups as parent-teacher and law enforcement organizations over how retail sales will affect communities has legislators easing up on the gas pedal, Cuomo said.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie expressed similar doubts about the timeline in January, saying lawmakers shouldn’t rush the measure.

But there was more optimism in the Senate, also controlled by Democrats.

Supporters want lawmakers to act quickly to catch up to neighboring states such as Vermont and Massachusetts that have already legalized recreational marijuana.

– Associated Press