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Southern Tier lawmakers weigh in on NY Health Dept. push for marijuana legalization

(WBNG) — Smoking pot could become legal in the state of New York, and not just for medical issues. 

New York’s top health officials are pushing to legalize recreational marijuana. 

The New York State Department of Health issued a statement saying in part, "special consideration will need to be given to a number of factors including the age of who can purchase marijuana, who can grow and distribute it, the location of dispensaries, and at what rate the product would be taxed."

A few years ago Governor Andrew Cuomo was against recreational marijuana, now he appears to be for it.

"The facts have changed," said Cuomo, a Democrat. "We now have Massachusetts and New Jersey is moving to legalize marijuana. They are two of our main border states."

Local leaders in the Southern Tier have different views about this topic. 

"I am deeply concerned about the public safety impact that it has, how it affects our community," said Republican State Senator Fred Akshar. "It will affect the community in a negative way."

The NYSDOH also took a look at regulating and taxing recreational marijuana. It found that the pros outweigh the cons. 

Democratic Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo says recreational weed could benefit the state. 

"We can make sure law enforcement is involved," explained Lupardo. "Along with the farm bureau, and the business community and all of our health professionals. I think it’s something, certainly, the majority of my constituents are in favor of."

According to the Governor, don’t count on legal weed just yet. 

"The legislative session is ending here in New York," said Cuomo. "So we won’t legislate it this year. But we look forward to seeing the full report."

New York already has a medical marijuana program, which allows patients with qualifying conditions to use non-smokable forms of pot.

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