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New York lawmaker wants to legalize recreational marijuana

Monday, 16 Dec 2013 | 2:29 PM ET
New York's marijuana legalization push
Monday, 16 Dec 2013 | 11:40 AM ET
Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Democratic New York Assembly member, discusses the failed war on drugs and her newly introduced marijuana regulation and taxation act that would regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Your neighborhood corner store may get a lot more popular if New York State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes has her way.

Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat representing Buffalo, introduced a bill to the New York State Assembly last week that would legalize the sale, regulation and taxation of marijuana, which if passed would make New York the third state along with Washington and Colorado to approve recreational marijuana sales.

"It means a tremendous amount for the state of New York," Peoples-Stokes said Monday on "Squawk on the Street." "It will add to our revenue. It will decrease the cost we spend on incarcerating people, in particular, people of color. It will decrease the cost we spend on the courts."

Peoples-Stokes is proposing that New York state adopt a marijuana excise tax that would cost $50 per ounce. After the excise tax, municipalities that decide to allow retail marijuana licenses can tax pot sales up to 5 percent. She contends that authorities can stop underaged buyersyounger than 18, per her recently introduced billbecause they already do so with tobacco products.

(Read more: WeedMaps: Meet the Yelp of the marijuana business)

Aaron Ontiveroz | The Denver Post | Getty Images

Under her proposed bill, New York state residents 18 and older can possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana. The State Liquor Authority would be responsible for regulating licences required for selling, growing and transporting marijuana.

"These deals will not take place on the street any longer," Peoples-Stokes said. "Just like it changed under the prohibition of alcohol, it will change under eliminating prohibition of marijuana as well. People will have to go to a regulated site where they will purchase it. This is something you have to use in the privacy of your own home."

(Read more: In 2 states, corner marijuana store nears reality)

The bid for legal pot in New York faces an uphill battle, however. New York state has yet to allow medical marijuana, let alone retail pot businesses, and a Republican-controlled state Senate has never allowed votes on recent bills that relax marijuana enforcement.

The largely Democratic state Assembly has tried to pass medical marijuana bills three times before. State Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, introduced an identical bill legalizing marijuana to the state Senate last week. Peoples-Stokes conceded that past reforms have failed, and that she was trying to "ramp up discussion" with the proposed legislation.

(Read more: Uruguay legalizes marijuana trade)

"This needs to move forward," Peoples-Stokes said. "The war on drugs has been lost. The communities that have suffered as a result of this war have been almost decimated."

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street." Reuters contributed to this report.

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