Senate marijuana vote along party lines

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ALBANY – The New York Senate, Tuesday, voted to approve the recreational use of marijuana with the vote along party lines as Democrats supported it and Republicans opposed it.

In the Hudson Valley, all Democrats voted for the measure, including Harckham, Hinchey, Mayer, Reichlin-Melnick, Skoufis and Stewart-Cousins.

The two Republicans in the region, Serino and Martucci, voted against it.

Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan, a Democrat, said legalization “represents a tremendous economic opportunity for Ulster County that fits within our Ulster 2040 strategy to establish a more ‘People-Centered Economy’ by boosting our agricultural community, generating good paying jobs in an emerging market, and creating additional revenues to support all of our county’s critical programs in addition to helping those disproportionately negatively impacted by marijuana laws.”

Ryan said in the coming weeks, the county will work with “our agricultural, businesses communities, law enforcement and localities to ensure as equitable and safe implementation.”

In Orange County, Executive Steven Neuhaus doesn’t see it that way.

“It looks to me that the state is continuing to do a fire sale and do anything possible to raise revenue just because they have a problem balancing their own budget,” he said. “As I see other states doing recreational marijuana, I don’t see it as the one quick fix to get their states, including New York State now, out of their self-induced financial mess.”

Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra is president of the Mid-Hudson Police Chiefs Association. He said law enforcement is concerned about defining violations of the law.

“We really have to get a better understanding from the Senate as to what ‘substantial impairment’ means; how do we define it and then how is a police officer going to be able to articulate in a court of law that somebody was substantially impaired, versus just impaired. And the second part of the equation is to come up with roadside testing for marijuana,” Sinagra said.

The chief said once signed into law, it will probably take 18 to 24 months before it goes into effect.

The Democrat-controlled Assembly is also set to approve the new law with the governor promising to sign it.