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Legalized marijuana

Advocates of legalizing adult recreational marijuana said they plan to spend the next six months convincing state lawmakers to allow the drug to be sold and used in New York after a measure failed in the final days of the session. 

At a conference on marijuana hosted by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, law enforcement officials acknowledged that current laws around the drug are not enforced equally.

“We want to treat everybody equally, obviously, and we’re not doing that,” said Monroe County Undersheriff Korey Brown, speaking on a panel about legal issues surrounding marijuana. “So we need to make a change.”

Brown said people of color and people who live in impoverished neighborhoods often bear the brunt of policing, especially when it comes to marijuana.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in an interview Friday on “Connections with Evan Dawson” on WXXI, cast doubt on the future of legalized marijuana in New York.

The governor said he doesn’t believe the votes are there in the Legislature to pass a plan to allow legal cannabis for adults in New York. And he said he will not “twist arms” to convince lawmakers to vote for the proposal. 

If marijuana is legalized how will it impact local jobs, the workforce, healthcare, and other aspects of daily living? That’s what reporters in the WXXI newsroom have been tracking down. Reporters James Brown and Brett Dahlberg join this edition of Need to Know share their findings and some of the challenges they encountered in their research.

Advocates for recreational cannabis say it will be a money-maker for New York and an opportunity to launch new business, small and large. It’s estimated that legalizing weed in New York could generate more than $1.7 billion in sales each year. WXXI’s Hélène Biandudi Hofer met two local entrepreneurs of color who see a legal weed industry as not only a chance to make money, but to also educate and destigmatize cannabis. However, they question if the so-called “green rush” will be equitable and benefit those targeted by the war on drugs. Rochester’s Roc NORML weighs in on this issue and shares how they’re working with legislators to ensure equal access to the cannabis industry.

If New York State legalizes marijuana, Governor Cuomo says the profits should go largely to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by arrests and incarceration. So how can that be assured?

We explore that question with our guests:

To legalize or not to legalize, that’s the big question in the Empire State when it comes to recreational marijuana. While the deal was a no-go in the recently passed state budget, proponents say it will happen and we all need to get ready for it. But organizations who oppose the legalization of pot are expected to use the delay to try to prevent the legislation from passing. On this special edition of Need to Know, the WXXI News team examines how cannabis could potentially affect our community, including jobs, health care, and the economy.

wnyc.org

With recreational marijuana on the horizon, how could New Yorkers expect the culture to change?

The push for cannabis regulation and prohibition began in the early 1900s, and really took off in the 1930s.

Nick Robertson, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Rochester Institute of Technology, said this was due in large part to propaganda like the film “Reefer Madness.”

"If you smoke marijuana, you were gonna go crazy," he said. "You were going to do horrible things, it would destroy your life, and ever since then, there’s been a stigma attached."

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature indicate they’re moving closer to legalizing recreational marijuana, users and prescribers of medical cannabis – particularly in rural areas – have been wondering what the change will mean for them.

New York state keeps a list of medical marijuana practitioners in each county who agree to be named publicly.

In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in New York State. The proposal has led to a debate.

We sit down with members of Roc NORML, a group that supports the decriminalization of cannabis; and members of local law enforcement, who who say legalizing marijuana would negatively impact traffic safety and impose additional costs to police departments. 

In studio:

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