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New York State is 'very close' to reaching a deal on marijuana legalization

Those opposed to legalization continue to push back. "I fear that if this passes this year, it's only going to pass because the advocates can't be in the building."

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For Governor Andrew Cuomo, legalizing adult-use cannabis is a priority once again in 2021. 

Cuomo said he spent the weekend on the phone with Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes working on getting a recreational marijuana bill done. 

“We have to get it done this year," Cuomo said. "There’s been too many young lives that have been ruined because of the marijuana laws.”

Cuomo said lawmakers are close to making it happen, but he's adamant that it must get done this year, after several years of falling short.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Tuesday the legislature is "extremely close" to a deal on legalization, with a hang-up still about impaired driving.

She does believe that the legislature will be able to resolve that.

However, those opposed are pushing back.

"We are gonna do everything we can in the next days to try to stop this again. This legislation is harmful to children and there is no other way to look at this legislation," said Kyle Belokopitsky, the executive director of the NYS PTA. 

Belokopitsky fears the passage of the legislation will have physical and mental health ramifications. 

She told 2 On Your Side, "If you just look at the statistics and how this is going to affect the public safety or driving safety and how this is going to affect children and youth and teens, I have absolutely no idea why they're pushing this forward."

Belokopitsky, alongside other advocates, has fought the legalization of recreational marijuana through many sessions. And while they're still working to get their message across, she said restrictions due to the pandemic make it harder to plead their case.

"I fear that if this passes this year, it's only going to pass because the advocates can't be in the building," Belokopitsky said. 

Those in favor of legalization said one of the many reasons to do so is to keep people from going to the black market.  

Surrounding states and Canada have already legalized recreational marijuana for adults.  

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