The final effort to legalize marijuana in New York failed on Wednesday after state lawmakers clashed over legislation about the issue.

Moderate New York lawmakers hesitated on approving a legalization measure, while there was also disagreement on how to regulate the industry. Supporters of pot legalization have repeatedly argued that police arrests for possession of the drug disproportionately target minorities, who often times can serve lengthy jail sentences for such an offense.


“It is clear now that M.R.T.A. is not going to pass this session,” Sen. Liz Krueger of Manhattan said in a statement on Wednesday morning, using an acronym for the legalization bill she had sponsored. “We came very close to crossing the finish line, but we ran out of time.”

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The development in New York follows last month’s news from New Jersey, whose governor and state legislature announced that the push to legalize marijuana would also be temporarily abandoned and instead be decided via a referendum in 2020.


New York state lawmakers instead introduced a “backup bill” to decriminalize marijuana by cutting the punishment for possession and that would also permit for some records of the drug to be expunged. New York’s medical marijuana production and sale could also reportedly be expanded under newly proposed legislation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he would back a decriminalization bill for marijuana.

“I was asked earlier this week on a radio show if I would settle for decriminalization as a backup, and I said I keep fighting,” he said in a statement.

A survey released last week by Siena College Research Institute revealed 55 percent of voters back the drug’s legalization.


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