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Cuomo appoints group to draft bill for regulating marijuana

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  A group consisting of New York state government and law enforcement officials, advocates and academics has been appointed to draft legislation for regulating recreational marijuana, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday. 

The Democrat said the group will be led by his counsel, Alphonso David, who will also serve as liaison between the governor's office and stakeholders as the state formulates a program for a regulated marijuana market that could raise hundreds of millions in state tax revenue each year. 

The announcement came three weeks after state officials issued a long-awaited report on legalization of marijuana in New York. The health department analysis concluded that the benefits of legalizing pot outweigh the risks, while eliminating criminal penalties that disproportionately impact minorities. 

``As we work to implement the report's recommendations through legislation, we must thoroughly consider all aspects of a regulated marijuana program, including its impact on public health, criminal justice and state revenue, and mitigate any potential risks associated with it,'' Cuomo said. 

The 20-member group includes Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and the heads of several other state agencies, legal advocates, and academics from the University at Albany, the University at Buffalo and New York University. 

They must come up with recommendations for the Legislature to consider when it returns to Albany in January. Part of their duties will involve working with the Assembly and Senate to come up with legislation regulating an industry the health department study estimated could bring in nearly $700 million for the state. 

The study, ordered by Cuomo in January and released July 13, said New York state ``would be one of the largest potential regulated marijuana markets in the United States.''

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