NY Gov. ‘Nervous’ About Gathering Votes for Recreational Marijuana Legislation

Written by: Ryan Deffenbaugh – Crain’s New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo fears legislation to legalize recreational marijuana may be in trouble.

The governor said during an interview with Rochester public radio station WXXI Friday that he was “nervous” about lawmakers asking for his assistance. He was asked if he would help gather votes for marijuana before the end of the legislative session.

“The [state] Senate said they supported it and said they had the votes,” Cuomo said. “When they now say, ‘We need the governor to come in to make this happen,’ that’s a different tune they are singing.”

Cuomo, despite previous opposition to legal marijuana, pushed for the measure to be included in the state budget this year. Legal marijuana was a plank of his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term. But the issue was pushed from negotiations before the budget passed April 1.

“I’m a little dubious about the Legislature taking votes on difficult issues … outside the budget,” Cuomo said. “They are now saying, ‘We need the governor to weigh in.’ That’s a bad sign, legislatively.”

Asked whether he would help wrangle votes for the legislation, Cuomo was noncommittal.

“I support it,” he said, “but if they are starting to suggest I need to twist arms, that’s a bad sign. Because arm-twisting doesn’t work, and it means they don’t have the political support.”

Reached for comment by the New York Post, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the speaker’s office is “not aware of what the governor is talking about.”

“We haven’t counted the votes and, with all due respect to the governor, the speaker has never needed him to twist arms,” Heastie aide Michael Whyland told the Post.

The legislative session ends June 19.