Put this in your pipe and smoke it, New York.
A serious campaign is under way to green New York’s economy by legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, The Post has learned.
Big Marijuana has tapped politically juiced Albany lobbyists – including powerhouse Patricia Lynch Associates – to spread the smoky ganja gospel in the Empire State.
Lynch, whose firm is representing the for-profit, Colorado-based Rx pot manufacturer and seller Gaia, has connections on both sides of the aisle. She’s a former top aide to Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and one of her managing partners, Patrick McCarthy, is former executive director of the state Republican Party and an aide to former GOP Gov. George Pataki.
The effort comes a week after the voters of Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana. New York is now surrounded by states that sanction medical weed: New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“We’re going to negotiate this bill with the wind at our backs. There’s tremendous support to legalize medical marijuana in New York,” said state Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat, adding:
Lately, there has been a cultural shift toward lifting the prohibition against marijuana. On Election Day, voters in Colorado and Washington approved sale of cannabis to adults over the age of 21.
And a Siena College poll in June showed 61 percent of New York voters backed medical marijuana to help relieve pain and suffering.
Savino said licensing and taxing of marijuana growers, dispensaries and sales could generate upwards of $1 billion for New York’s cash-starved coffers.
Prescription marijuana is backed by the New York State Medical Society.
There are currently 400 licensed marijuana clinics in Colorado, making the product nearly as accessible as Starbucks coffee, critics charge.
But “we’re bringing in a new industry that would create jobs. It’s a win-win for the government and local communities,” said Meg Sanders, of Gaia.
Sanders said the $1.5 billion industry is heavily regulated. In Colorado, every marijuana plant is tagged with a bar code and tracked by video surveillance.
The business has created 8,000 direct jobs and 12,000 indirect jobs, Sanders said.
But New York law-enforcement authorities say legalizing marijuana under medical pretenses is a sham that would encourage the use of a “gateway” drug banned by the feds, and they plan to whack the weed initiative.
“We are now coping with the epidemic of prescription-pill addiction and cannot afford another disaster caused by the highly abused ‘remedy’ pushed by Big Marijuana,” said New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
Gov. Cuomo has been hazy on the issue of marijuana. He has pushed decriminalizing possession of small amounts but has been more skeptical about medical weed.
“I understand the benefits, but there are also risks – and I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point,” Cuomo said earlier this year.
Source: NY Post