Former Erie Co. executive pushes for recreational marijuana legalization
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- This time last year, New York was just getting its feet wet in the medical marijuana industry.
The group New York Grows now wants lawmakers in Albany to consider a bill that would legalize recreational pot for those over 18, as long as it’s under two ounces.
“Prohibition is not an effective policy,” said former Erie County Executive, Joel Giambra, who on the board of New York Grows.
Giambra, who is also a Republican, sees a chance for New York to reap financial rewards.
“There’s approximately about $600 million we believe, that would go to the state of New York by legalizing marijuana in this state. We also know that our roads and bridges are collapsing,” Giambra said Tuesday.
Legalization advocates often compare New York to Colorado, a state which has seen substantial gains in taxing recreational pot.
According to research by New York Grows, legalization could boost tax revenue and jobs.
“Even five years ago it was hard to imagine eight states would legalize recreational marijuana, almost 30 for medical. Things are happening quickly, and I think we can clearly see where the tide is moving,” said Max Eyle, who handles the group’s promotions and media.
Another reason the group feels the time is now, is to lessen the burden on the criminal justice system.
There have already been efforts to cut down on possession laws in the City of Buffalo.
According to law enforcement sources, in general, police feel violent crimes often stem from drug use.
Buffalo Police have not issued a stance on this, but have said their job is simply to enforce the law that stands.
New York Grows stated recreational legalization could also combat a serious problem; opiate abuse. Because marijuana has not been linked to fatal overdose deaths, they said it’s a safer alternative to pain pill.s
News 4 has heard from local doctors who also feel medical marijuana could cut down on opiate abuse, but they were speaking specifically about medicinal cannabis, not recreational.