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Area Police Chiefs Announce Opposition To Marijuana Legalization In New York State

VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo wants New York State to legalize recreational adult-use marijuana in the next 45 days.

On Friday, several area police chiefs came out and said they'll work to curb the governor's efforts.

Mont Pleasant Police Sergeant Tom Olsen says he often stops drivers under the influence of pot, and says he sees the effect of it. Recently, one of his units was on patrol behind a vehicle and could smell the odor of marijuana from their patrol car.

"Their ability to respond to any distractions on the roadway, any obstacles, is going to be much slower," Olsen said.

The law enforcement officials were united in their opposition to Cuomo's plan

"The highways and roadways in New York State will become less safe," Mount Pleasant Police Chief Paul Oliva said.

The Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association joined the growing chorus urging the legislature to reject the governor's plan to legalize adult-use marijuana.

"Legalization will certainly make access easier for minors," Oliva said.

A recent poll shows 56 percent of New Yorkers support legalization. The owner of Our Smoke Shop in New Rochelle says his business plan depends on it.

"If the government legalizes marijuana we will apply for a license to sell it in our store," Charlie Chen said.

The chiefs say Colorado and California bring in far less revenue than projected, and predict associated addiction enforcement and healthcare costs will be high.

A report from the state's health department says the positive effects of legalization, including government oversight of production and distribution, outweigh the potential negative impacts.

Cuomo has called for legal pot in the budget due on March 31st. The plan would also allow individual counties and larger cities to opt out of legal marijuana and ban sales outlets from opening.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he's not certain it's enough time to work through the remaining issues.

Either way, the chiefs say they plan to lobby for its defeat.

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