YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has found a fan in Yorktown Assemblyman Steve Katz.
Katz, a Republican who represents the 94th district, recently returned from a trip to Colorado, where marijuana was recently legalized for those 21 and over.
The assemblyman has become a staunch advocate for marijuana since he was arrested for marijuana possession last year.
In Colorado, Katz, a veterinarian, saw how legalizing marijuana had generated $8 million in revenue for the state and saw many ways it could help New York.
"I found my trip to Colorado to be a remarkable experience," Katz, who went to Colorado as a private citizen, said. "I saw people from all walks of life lining up to get marijuana - from little old ladies to a couple from France to businessmen in suits. I had never seen anything like it."
Katz is hoping to at least get medical marijuana legalized in New York.
"I will do anything I can to help people and get this legalized," Katz said. "I'm not talking about sitting around smoking dope like Cheech and Chong. This has actual medical benefits."
Katz said he has attended hearings where families with kids who have seizures who have found benefits from medical marijuana.
"I salute the governor for finally realizing there is a whole lot more medicine than opiates and narcotics like Oxycontin and percocet," Katz said. "There has never been an overdose on pot. You cannot say the same for Oxycontin and Percocet."
After his marijuana arrest, Katz came under fire for a previous vote against medical marijuana. He said he was simply voting to reflect his constituents.
"I have known that making weed a criminal offense has been utterly ridiculous forever," Katz said. "That vote caused an existential dilemma. I went back and forth a whole lot."
Katz said after that vote he decided he would vote with his conscious.
"It was a very liberating feeling," Katz said.
Katz was elected to the state Assembly for the 99th Assembly District in November 2010. His district includes Yorktown, Somers and parts of Putnam County.
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