New York State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached a deal to legalize marijuana Wednesday, according to Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger, D-28.
Krueger didn't provide any details on the agreement, but says it is her understanding a deal has been reached.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who has sponsored Assembly legislation to legalize marijuana, said the bill is being drafted and is set to come up for a vote next week.
According to a report from Bloomberg, the state would legalize marijuana for those 21 and older, and establish a 13% sales tax, with 9% going to the state and 4% to counties.
Cuomo says the marijuana industry could bring in roughly $350 million a year and create more than 60,000 jobs.
In a briefing earlier Wednesday, Cuomo said legalizing marijuana is one of his top priorities for the state. He also said they were close to coming to an agreement on terms of the proposed bill.
In a meeting held by the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce earlier Wednesday morning, local leaders discussed the potential legalization of marijuana. Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, says there are still too many unanswered questions.
"There is no way to actually test how much of a level of cannabis is in an individual at the time, so, how does an employer actually work with this?" she said. "And that's one reason we're asking not to put this legislation forward. There's more questions than answers."
NEWSChannel 2 asked Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente for comment on word of a marijuana legalization deal during his Wednesday COVID briefing, "My position on marijuana initially and has always been, I've always stated my concern is that it's a gateway drug, it has been and I still look at it in that regard. Now, I'm always concerned when the state legislature puts legislation in effect that is in essence opting in, because that creates a great problem with neighboring counties do something that other counties don't. I'm gonna wait and see what comes out of it. We have a lot on our plate right now and to add another layer of issues that come along with the legalization of marijuana I think is a problem anyway. There are still many more questions than answers and while they think they may have resolved them by waiting the past couple of years, in the middle of a pandemic is the worst time to move forward on this."
As far as whether Oneida County would opt in, if the bill ends up being an opt-in type of bill, Picente said, "that’s something that we’re gonna have to take a look at, what the overall scope of it is and those are always tough decisions because it doesn’t help us when other counties do it, and that’s also a decision the Board of Legislators will have to make collectively and jointly with I’ll have to confer with them on that as well."
Cuomo has been calling for legalization of marijuana throughout his administration, attempting to pass legislation twice before. He announced his third proposal in his 2021 State of the State in January.