Watch CBS News

New York State Democrats Seek To Legalize, Tax Marijuana

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – New York State Democrats joined the great marijuana debate Wednesday.

The executive committee passed a resolution calling for the legalization of marijuana, saying millions could be added to state coffers if it were taxed like alcohol at an excise tax rate of 13 percent, CBS2's Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported.

"The Democratic party is excited about making this a platform resolution," New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.

For Kaminsky, legalizing marijuana isn't just some progressive idea that seems to be sweeping the country. If New York does join eight other states and the District of Columbia in making it legal, he'll be voting for just how it's done.

"As a lawmaker, we have to make sure that it's going to be rolled out responsibly, that our roads are going to be safe and that our children are going to be safe," he said.

More: Mayor De Blasio To Tell NYPD To Stop Marijuana Arrests And To Issue Summonses Instead

There are also political ramifications for running on a platform that calls for legalizing pot, Kramer reported.

"If you're running statewide, legalization of marijuana is probably a plus for you, because it's not going to hurt you in the city, it's not going to kill you in suburbs, and an upstate vote in a Democratic primary for governor is probably not all that important, if you have the first two," said Larry Levy, of Hofstra University.

Political consultant Charlie King said it could cut both ways.

"It still has to be something that has to be sort of test-driven, so I guess that's the con or the challenge," he said.

More: New York State Taking Another Look Into Legalizing Marijuana

"As someone who is running city and statewide, you have to weigh the variables about the entire constituency that you look to serve and see what the temperature is," said New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy.

"People pick and choose what they want to amplify. But it's so now clear that marijuana arrests are discriminatory," former New York City Council Speaker Chris Quinn said.

It remains to be seen just how much Gov. Cuomo and all the Democratic candidates actually talk about legalizing marijuana.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.