From the Morning Memo:

Despite speculation that the legalization of marijuana in New York could be detached from the budget and perhaps not even pass this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo still believes the issue will be decided this session.

Cuomo included a marijuana legalization measure in his executive budget proposal, and has also included revenue expected to be generated by that legalization in the congestion pricing/MTA overhaul deal he announced earlier this week in conjunction with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The governor would not say for certain that the issue would necessarily be decided by the April 1 budget deadline, but he’s holding out hope that it’s still a possibility.

“We want to make sure if we go this direction that it’s only people of the appropriate age, that safeguards are in place, that it’s regulated,” he said during a press availability in the Buffalo area yesterday. “So it’s something the state, I believe should do but should do correctly.”

The governor has said he and legislative leaders are continuing to have discussions about the details of how legalization would work.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who has championed this bill for years, recently said there was still a long way to go to reconcile her proposal with what the governor has put on the table.

There’s also an anti-legalization effort that has been growing across the state in recent weeks, as opponents suggest the state is rushing to a conclusion on a very thorny issue. They cite potential problems with driving-while-high, and the negative impact marijuana can have on the developing brains of teenagers.

Cuomo pointed out this is the first year he has taken on the issue of legalization for recreational use in earnest, and indicated he’s in no rush. (It wasn’t all that long ago that the governor said pot is a gateway drug and shouldn’t be legalized beyond highly regulated medical use).

“This has only been an idea that has been broached this year,” he said. “So it’s not going slowly at all. Some people would say it’s going too quickly, frankly. But it is an issue that I believe will be decided in this cycle.”