WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - It’s the subject many in Westchester County are talking about: should marijuana be legalized, and to what extent, in New York State?
Currently, 20 states – including Connecticut and New Jersey – have legalized the drug to some capacity, though most only prescribe medicinal marijuana to patients suffering from debilitating diseases such as cancer and glaucoma. Two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized pot for recreational use.
On Monday, New Jersey Sen. Nicholas Scutari introduced legislation that proposed legalizing marijuana to boost revenues by collecting the taxes the state could impose on the drug. His bill plans to be modeled after those that successfully preceded it out west, where Colorado collected more than $2 million in the first month of sales.
In his statement, Scutari dubbed the “war on marijuana” a failure, calling state and federal drug laws “archaic.” Mount Vernon resident Shannon Walker, 24, said that she believes Millennials would agree with the senator’s assertion, claiming that the drug is now seen as “harmless” by her generation.
“I feel like more people smoke weed recreationally now than they have in the past few decades. The stigma that it’s this bad drug isn’t really there anymore, it’s pretty universally accepted by most people,” she said. “
The notion of medical marijuana becoming legalized in New York State has become a hotbed political issue for local lawmakers in Westchester. In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo used executive power to give the green light to a medical marijuana bill, which gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino has blasted. Earlier this month, Scarsdale Assemblywoman Amy Paulin held a press conference to express her support for the Compassionate Care Act.
“I don’t know if you can fully legalize marijuana, because it’s impossible to monitor. You can’t just give a breathalyzer to a driver to check for THC if they’re pulled over,” Yonkers resident Joe Rondon, 25, said in White Plains. “That said, there’s no reason not to make use of the good with medical marijuana.
His sister, Jenny, 22, argued that marijuana is no more a risk to someone than drinking alcohol, which has been legal since Prohibition was lifted.
“Smoking is no worse than drinking, and in many cases it’s probably preferable,” she said. (If you legalize) you’ll have a few who take it too far, just like alcohol. I don’t see any reason it can’t be legalized responsibly.”