BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “I think this should have been passed years ago,” remarked Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo is once again calling for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use by adults.
The governor announcing his plans Wednesday, saying it is designed to generate new revenues for the state caught in an economic crunch.
For a third time, Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, is calling for state lawmakers to approve recreational marijuana.
Cuomo said it would generate about $300-million a year for the state and it would stop what he calls “exaggerated injustice” for minorities.
“Too many people have been imprisoned and incarcerated and punished. Too many of those people are Black, Latino and poor,” declared Cuomo.
“There's no discussion about public health and safety,” stated Senator Patrick Gallivan, Republican.
Galilivan is not in support of legalizing marijuana. He said a deficit should not be a reason for supporting it.
"No. Not at all and I think we have to deal with public health and safety first. We don't know — there's no science that says smoking marijuana is healthy and smoking is okay and not detrimental to your health and I think that has to come first,” Gallivan explained. "We’ve got people that are advocating for the legalization of recreational simply based on the state having a deficit."
Gallivan also points out that driving under the influence of marijuana remained an issue.
But New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association is applauding the governor's proposal.
“It’s definitely the year we need to get it done,” responded Kaelan Castetter, vice president of the organization.
Castetter said the licensing and control over the program would make it safe.
“When you bring something into the legal market place and you regulate it you just allow for a more safer product, safer method of consumption and more transparency for the consumer,” Castetter said.
Castetter also responded to our question about driving under the influence and potential dangers.
“Under a regulated program, they will know how much THC they are consuming, but it will give our law enforcement more tools to enforce it — the same as you enforce people being intoxicate," answered Castetter.
There have been two different past proposals on the issue, the governor's and the legislature's version.
Castetter said the legislature proposal calls for a percentage of sales tax to go back to counties and the municipality where it’s sold.
Legalizing marijuana could also offer an economic boost in Buffalo.
Brad Termini, CEO of Zepry, a California based cannabis company, who wants to build a massive cannabis facility at Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park in south Buffalo.
"It's the perfect size. We’re optimistic that third times the charm and this is the year,” responded Termini.
The proposed cannabis campus for Buffalo would include greenhouses and processing for marijuana
“That would entail high tech cultivation — manufacturing — product, creation — really kind of soup to nuts,” replied Termini.
Termini said it also has the potential to add between 500 to 1,000 local jobs.
We also asked Termini about concerns of public safety.
"It’s natural for people to be fearful of change — but you need to look at other states,” responded Termini. "Cannabis has been legalized in California for almost 20 years and none of the fears that you hear — have really come to realization in California or other states where it was legalized."
The governor is expected to formally present his proposal in his upcoming state of the state address.