Legalized marijuana measures debated in NY & NJ

Governor Cuomo has been pushing to legalize recreational marijuana in New York State. But as the April 1st budget deadline draws closer, it’s looking less and less likely that a bill will be agreed upon before then.

"We are asking the state and legislature to keep this policy removed from the state budget and proceed slowly and cautiously," said Sarah Ravenhall, who strongly opposes the bill. She’s the executive director of the County Health Officials of New York.  "What we’ve learned from other states who have legalized programs is that they have seen an increase in emergency room visits, inpatient hospital visits, motor vehicle accidents, unintentional exposures in children and calls to poison control centers."

But the criticism doesn't come as a surprise to Governor Cuomo. A spokesperson for the Governor sent us a statement that reads in part: "The Governor and legislative leaders have expressed concerns for weeks that there may not be sufficient time to finalize a bill that comprehensively regulates adult-use recreational cannabis."

The governor's office tells Fox 5 News that he's still pushing the proposal, but right now it's not included in the budget because negotiations are ongoing. He is hopeful it will pass in the post-budget legislative session, sometime before June.

In New Jersey, lawmakers are scheduled to vote this coming Monday on whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Governor Phil Murphy says he’s making progress at convincing other lawmakers to back the bill, but its fate is still uncertain.

"We are working together seamlessly to try to get across the goal line on Monday in both chambers," said Governor Murphy.

It’s a whole package bill that would legalize recreational pot of up to one ounce for people 21 and over. The bill also includes vacating sentences for people incarcerated or on parole for low level marijuana-related crimes.

"Our kids are exposed, the bad guys run the businesses and we have the widest white/non-white gap of persons incarcerated in America," said Governor Murphy.

At this point, there are still dozens of towns in New Jersey that don’t support legalization and have even taken steps to prevent marijuana businesses from opening.

If marijuana does become legal in New Jersey, towns can still ban businesses, but they wouldn’t be able to prevent residents from buying pot elsewhere and possessing it in town, as long as they don’t use it in public.