Top New York Lawmaker ‘Really Encouraged’ By Marijuana Legalization Talks With Governor

MJ moment

A top New York lawmaker says that she’s “really encouraged” by negotiations with the governor’s office to form a plan to legalize marijuana this year—even though the previous day she shared that some of those talks had become heated to the point of screaming. Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D) said on Thursday that the reform “could actually happen outside of the budget process because that’s how close we are to completing a deal.” That’s despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) hard push to enact the policy change through the budget ahead of the April 1 deadline. “Talks are really good and really fruitful and I’m really encouraged,” she told The Buffalo News. “I’ve never felt this encouraged before.” That’s a somewhat different tone than Peoples-Stokes took in another recent interview, where she described contentious conversations with the governor and staff over the legalization proposal. She said at one point that “I kind of screamed on him a little bit about some of the negotiations we are having regarding the marijuana bill because it is way over time to get that done.” At the center of the debate is how to resolve differences between Cuomo’s reform plan and the separate one that top lawmakers filed, which advocates say is more soundly grounded in social equity. Cuomo, who is facing a slew of allegations of sexual misconduct from current and former aides in addition to a scandal about his administration covering up counts of nursing home deaths from coronavirus, proposed amendments to his legislation last month that he hoped would address certain concerns from lawmakers and advocates. The changes primarily concern that issues such as social equity funding and criminal penalties for underage marijuana possession. The revised plan would continue to criminalize people who grow their own marijuana at home, however, and…

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