GOP Gubernatorial candidate Joel Giambra supports the idea of legalizing and collecting revenues from marijuana for recreational use. Giambra believes the money generated will help pay to fix the troubled Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in Downstate New York, as well as, rebuild roads and bridges throughout the state.
During an afternoon press conference, Giambra said "ending the prohibition" on marijuana could help plug budget gaps and create entrepreneurial opportunities in NYS.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. However, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced the repeal of a policy put into effect during the Obama administration that protected marijuana from federal prosecution.
Among voters, legalizing marijuana continues to generate different opinions.
A Siena College poll in July 2017 found the issue was closely divided with 49 percent supporting legalizing and regulating marijuana and 47 percent opposing it. The Siena poll found Democrats strongly supported the idea, while Republicans were strongly against it. Among age groups, younger voters overwhelmingly supported idea. Older voters were against it by a 56-39 percent.
In November 2017, Emerson College conducted a poll that was commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance. It found 62% of registered voters support legalizing marijuana for people 21+ in New York and 28% oppose it.
While Governor Andrew Coumo has been a strong supporter of medical marijuana, Cuomo has previously told reporters that he is "unconvinced on recreational marijuana" and adding that he believes it is a "gateway drug" that can lead to other drugs.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse looked at the question of "gateway drugs" and found some research suggesting that marijuana use is "likely to precede use of other licit and illicit substances and the development of addiction to other substances."
During a press conference, Joel Giambra explained his ideas for legalizing marijuana.
The group WNY NORML backs Giambra's push for legalization.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report.