U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer is backing the push to legalize adult-use cannabis in New York as the measure gains ground for potential passage in the coming days in Albany.
At the same time, Schumer raised the possibility of the bill's approval being a harbinger for easing federal marijuana policy in the future.
Schumer on Tuesday tweeted his support for the measure, which would allow for the legal sale of cannabis products and allow people to grow a limited number of marijuana plants in their homes.
"As a deal comes close to getting done, I urge our leaders in Albany to keep front and center the effort to repair the harm done by marijuana prohibition," Schumer said.
Tax dollars generated by a cannabis program should go to aid communities affected by previous drug laws and the small businesses should benefit from the program as well, he added.
All versions of the bill introduced by state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have proposed some form of a social equity fund meant to provide money to communities for programs like after school activities and job placement.
Schumer's statement comes as state lawmakers and Cuomo in recent days have said they are close to reaching an agreement, potentially before the broader state budget is due at the end of the month.
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the top Democrat in the state Senate, confirmed on Tuesday lawmakers had hit a snag over a traffic safety provision in the negotiations.
And a coalition of school and law enforcement organizations this week is expected to ratchet up its opposition to the legalization proposal.
Schumer's support for the bill, however, comes as marijuana laws are being reconsidered across the country.
"I am glad that all sides are working hard to push this over the finish line," he said. "It will only add momentum to our vital efforts to reform marijuana laws at the federal level."