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Cuomo Health Commissioner To Recommend Pot Legalization, Political Opponents Are Critical

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration is moving ahead on a recommendation to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, a move immediately criticized by Cuomo’s Republican opponent for governor.

The announcement came not from Cuomo, but from his health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, speaking to a gathering of medical marijuana providers. Zucker says he’s concluded that when it comes to legalizing pot, “the pros outweigh the cons.”   

“The report recommends that a regulated legal marijuana program be available to adults in the State of New York,” Zucker said.

Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo, who had been opposed to recreational marijuana, said the "facts have changed" because neighboring states are moving to legalize the drug.

Cuomo said through a spokesman that he awaits the report and will review it, but did not actually commit to making pot legal in New York.

The Republican candidate for governor, Marc Molinaro, accuses Cuomo of “sprinting to the left” to save his political career since his Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon announced her candidacy. Nixon supports legalizing marijuana.

A spokeswoman for Molinaro, Katherine DelGado, says the “decision that has less to do with science and everything to do with politics."

Nixon spokeswoman Lauren Hitt says it’s a “disgusting form of irony” that “the Governor is now using marijuana to distract from a corruption trial of a close associate."

The former leader of Cuomo’s economic development efforts, Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, is on trial in federal district court, along with two upstate developers, on bid-rigging charges.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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