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LOVETT: Hochul supports legalizing pot--but won't be trying it herself


New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during opening day of the 2019 legislative session in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Albany, N.Y. (Hans Pennink / AP)

ALBANY – If recreational marijuana is legalized in New York, one person who won't be toking up is Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

While Hochul fully supports the legalization effort, she told the Daily News she has never tried pot and has no interest in doing so moving forward.

"I don't think my personality requires anything like that," Hochul said. "I can enjoy life without it. But I won't pass judgment on anyone else. I never have."

Hochul, 60, got her undergraduate degree in 1980 from Syracuse University, where she said pot was "pretty prevalent."

She said many of her friends tried to get her to try it, even joking they would refuse to graduate unless they first saw her smoke a joint.

"I think more because they were pushing me, that's probably why I didn't," she said. "People always assume (she tried pot) because I enjoy life and I socialize. I just made a decision then and nothing's changed.

"I don't know that I have the curiosity, either."

But despite not wanting to use pot herself, Hochul said she — like Gov. Cuomo — believes legalizing it "is an issue who's time has come."

"It's just one of those issues that has evolved," Hochul said. "People's perceptions have evolved, but we have to make sure it's regulated, it's taxed and it becomes legalized."

She added that marijuana is "better than getting hooked on opioids."

Cuomo, who has said he tried pot in his younger days, is set to formally introduce a plan to legalize the drug in his state budget proposal to be released Tuesday.

It was only a year ago the governor, 61, called marijuana a "gateway drug."

But with Canada and bordering states having legalized it — or looking to do so — Cuomo says circumstances have changed.

He also now says any plan should boost minority communities that have been hit hardest by the war on drugs.


Gov. Cuomo isn't the only target of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's ire over a state commission's decision to tie legislative reforms to a lawmaker pay raise.

Heastie is also fuming about an old friend, state Controller Thomas DiNapoli, who served on the panel.

Heastie has griped to those close to him that he believes DiNapoli betrayed his former colleagues in the Legislature, who elevated him in 2007 to the controller position — especially after DiNapoli had publicly questioned at a hearing whether the commission had the ability to tie the pay raises to restrictions on lawmakers' outside income.

Heastie noticeably did not speak to DiNapoli or applaud on Wednesday when new Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins warmly welcomed the controller to the chamber to watch her swearing in.

A Heastie spokesman had no comment.

DiNapoli spokesman Jennifer Freeman said that "Tom believes Carl is an effective speaker and considers him a friend of long standing."


Entering the state Capitol now is a lot like going through airport security.

Since 9/11, the public has had to clear metal detectors to enter the building. Last week, state police enacted additional measures.

Visitors must now also remove their belts and, at times, their shoes.

"They are the result of routine security review of procedures at the Capitol entrance checkpoints," said State Police spokesman Beau Duffy.

He added that by screening belts separately, "we hope to eliminate a significant cause of delays at the checkpoints."