ALBANY -- New York wants to loosen its laws on the possession of marijuana, but don't expect weed to be legal in the state anytime soon.
As the state looks to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and expands access to medical marijuana, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he's not ready to back the legalization of marijuana in New York.
"There’s two sides to the argument, but I, as of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana," Cuomo said in Schenectady when he was asked about his stance by reporters.
"If you choose to use marijuana recreationally, you know the law."
In his budget plan last month, the Democratic governor again proposed that New York decriminalize possession of some marijuana.
He sought a similar measure in 2012, but it was rebuffed by Senate Republicans, who still control the chamber.
Still, Cuomo said Wednesday he still has concerns about the impact of legalizing marijuana throughout the state, which happened in neighboring Massachusetts in December and six other states.
"The flip side argument is that it’s a gateway drug and marijuana leads to other drugs, and there is a lot of proof that is true," Cuomo said.
When Siena College last asked about the issue in June 2014, voters by a 54 percent to 41 percent marijuana said they oppose legalizing and regulating marijuana in New York.
Some Democrats in the state Legislature have pushed New York to embrace marijuana, but Cuomo has been cautious on the issue since he took office in 2011.
He initially raised concerns about widespread marijuana use if the state allowed for medical marijuana sales.
He ultimately supported medical marijuana, though, in 2014 -- but only in non-smokeable forms and for limited ailments.
Last year, though, the Health Department said it would expand the conditions that would be eligible for medical marijuana and let nurse practitioners prescribe it through New York's heavily regulated system.
On decriminalizing marijuana -- which in 2012 would have reduced the penalty for possessing 25 grams or less of pot to a violation -- Cuomo's budget said, "This measure reflects the national trend and a dramatic shift in public opinion."