Call for recreational marijuana legalization in NY gives hope to some, concerns others
ROCHESTER, NY (WHAM) - 2019 could be the year recreational marijuana is approved in New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday it will be a priority in the coming year.
It's a move that could bring in an estimated $1.3 billion in annual tax revenue.
"Let's legalize the use of adult recreational marijuana once and for all," said Governor Cuomo on Monday.
Meanwhile, some law enforcement officials see many challenges ahead.
"Really, it's going to be a logistical nightmare for the police to try and prove what is the level of intoxication," said Chief James Vanbrederode of the Gates Police Department.
He said officers don't have the tools needed to test if a driver is high, and he questions where the funding to get them would come from.
"There's nothing more powerful, when you go to court, than when you have some sort of scientific back-up," he said.
That's where marijuana breathalyzers, like the ones being tested in Canada, could make the difference.
"With this device, the test can be used at the scene, it can be used at checkpoints," explains a video from Cannabix Technologies Inc.
According to information from the video, the results from their handheld device can detect marijuana consumption within a two hour range of use.
However, it could take time before the device hits the streets.
"What we really need to focus on is having the conversation now in preparation," said Steve Vandewalle, Director of Development for Roc NORML.
He said, while the governor's statement is vague, it's helping to set the groundwork for future legalization.
"Now that it's been addressed at the state level, it's crucial that we talk to local politicians," he added.
There's also debate about marijuana and the workplace.
"Advocate against workplace drug testing, because I think it could be counter productive," said Vandewalle.
"What's going to be the threshold allowing them to work or not work?" asked Chief Vanbrederode.
13WHAM also reached out to The Hound Labs based in California. Representatives said there are plans to roll out their marijuana breathalyzers as early as next year. They could provide the tool to both law enforcement and employers.