Recreational marijuana in New York: More counties say they will opt out

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ALBANY – County leaders are lining up to opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales even if New York legalizes the drug.

Executives in Rockland, Putnam and Chemung counties told the USA TODAY Network’s Albany Bureau this week they will recommend prohibiting marijuana sales within their borders should Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legalization proposal be approved.

They added their names to a list that already included county executives in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, who had vowed to opt out earlier in the week.

And the list could continue to grow: Westchester County Executive George Latimer told reporters Thursday he and county lawmakers would consider their options, leaving open the possibility the major suburban county of 980,000 residents would opt out.

Monroe County, too, is weighing how to proceed.

“It’s darn close to 50-50 from a Westchester perspective,” Latimer said of the public’s position on marijuana.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and top lawmakers in Albany have expressed support for legalizing marijuana in New York, pointing to neighboring states like Massachusetts and Vermont that have already done so.

Cuomo has proposed a system for regulating and taxing the drug in his $175 billion state budget proposal, though he has said recently he expects it to drop out of the final product. [Read More @ Democrat and Chronicle]