The state will hold a series of public sessions in the next six weeks to get community input on the implementation of a regulated recreational marijuana program, the governor's office announced.
A session will be held on Long Island on Sept. 27 at a location to be determined, the officials said. The first session will be Wednesday in Albany and the final session is scheduled for Oct. 11 in Watertown. There will also be sessions in each borough of New York City.
“Community input is critical as we work to draft balanced and comprehensive legislation on a regulated marijuana program in New York,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news release.
The listening sessions will be held in the evenings, officials said, and preregistration through ny.gov is encouraged.
The state says topics to be discussed include reducing the harmful impacts of illegal marijuana and the black market, establishing an age limit, use of tax revenue and addressing the criminal records of people with marijuana-related offenses.
On Aug. 2, Cuomo directed a state panel to draft legislation to allow recreational marijuana use. A law allowing the open sale of marijuana could be enacted in the legislative session that begins in January, the governor said.
The state approved legislation in 2014 that legalized marijuana for medical use.
Cuomo, a former prosecutor and attorney general, had long been opposed to recreational use of marijuana. But he directed the state Health Department in January to make a decision and in July the department found the positive aspects outweighed the negative.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who debated Cuomo at Hofstra University on Wednesday, has called for legalizing recreational marijuana.
"The multiagency report identified the benefits of a regulated marijuana market, and with these listening sessions we are taking another important step to develop a model program for New York," Cuomo said.
With Michael Gormley