State lawmakers are on the verge of a final agreement for the legalization of cannabis products in New York, with a “conceptual” agreement on the legislation reached Tuesday afternoon, according to a legislative source.
A deal, if finalized by Wednesday, could allow lawmakers to vote on a bill by early next week, legalizing cannabis and allowing New Yorkers to grow a limited number of marijuana plants in their homes.
The agreement would be a victory for a nascent marijuana industry seeking entry into a major market like New York state. But it would also come amid concerns raised by public health officials on the local level.
The New York State Association of County Health Officials and New York State Public Health Association in a joint statement said any agreement should include a boost in funding for local public health programs in the state.
“Based on experiences in several other states, we know that legalizing cannabis will have a profound impact on public health, and on already stressed local public health resources,” the groups said.
“We are calling on state leaders to see this issue through in a responsible manner. That means dedicating additional state funding to local health departments to ensure they can meet the increase in local service demand that without doubt will follow this policy, and further, to mandate public health leadership at the decision-making table prior to implementation.”
Public health officials and their offices have already been under the weight of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, and previously contended with local public health issues like the problems believed to be linked to vaping and e-cigarette usage.
“During this time, when we are all experiencing the value of public health in personal and profound ways, the state has an obligation to provide the resources necessary to minimize the harmful public health consequences of enacting such a policy,” the groups said.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday said an agreement was “very, very close” after lawmakers had reached a previous impasse over impaired driving concerns.