New York residents have a chance to voice their views regarding upcoming legislation and the potential use of marijuana recreationally, thanks to several listening sessions scheduled throughout the state in September and October. These sessions have allowed residents to truly reach their state officials on the trending topic.

So far, 11 of the 17 scheduled sessions have been held. These sessions have brought in residents from areas around each meeting point to share their views, the majority of which tend to be in favour of the move. However, each session has also hosted those who have concerns and want reassurance that the issues will receive due consideration prior to the implementation of new laws.

Recent listening sessions in Vestal and Newburgh showed majority support for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. However, concerns are still present, including concerns for small farmers if the laws change and minors having easier access to the drug.

In Vestal, State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, shared concerns about the destination of revenue from the marijuana sales. Her sticking point is that the money will be put in a general fund, rather than distributed to various organizations that are clearly outlined before the money starts coming in.

Meanwhile, a concern for younger area residents involved marijuana charges and the law enforcement’s perception of those using marijuana. This concern centred around changing the attitude of law enforcement towards those caught with marijuana and also the issue of expunging records for those who have criminal charges related to marijuana.

The atmosphere in Newburgh reflected a laidback attitude and optimism for the future should the laws go through. For some, the biggest appeal of marijuana legalization is the potential revenue, as the Hudson Valley area could be a highly viable location for marijuana growth and new businesses related to the venture.

Other Hudson Valley residents don’t see much difference between marijuana and the already legal and potentially addictive substances of alcohol and nicotine. Therefore, some public opinion reflects the view that legalizing marijuana is a logical choice.

The sessions will end with an Oct. 17 gathering in New Rochelle, NY. However, since more than half have already occurred, legislators are aware of the general support numbers and also the main concerns that state residents have towards legalizing recreational use of marijuana. The views seem to line up logically with the fact that NY is the state where medical marijuana use is the most regulated out of anywhere in the United States.

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