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Former NBA players advocate for statewide legalization of marijuana

Two former New York Knicks were in Albany on Tuesday to lobby for the legalization of marijuana as the outcome for the measure remains in doubt for the remaining days of the legislative session.

The appearance by the athletes — shooting guard JR Smith and retired power forward Al Harrington — continued a long tradition of bold-faced names traveling to the Capitol to highlight issues.

In previous years, MLB officials — including former Yankees managers Joe Torre and Joe Girardi — appeared at the Capitol to discuss the legalization of sports betting. In the debate over the West Side stadium one year, former Jets quarterback Joe Namath put in an appearance.

And Tuesday’s event was little different, with lawmakers lining up for photos with Smith and Harrington.

Harrington, the CEO of a cannabis business called Viola Extracts, said he was focused on ensuring the marijuana measure in New York would ensure diverse communities affected by the war on drugs would benefit from legalization.

“We’re a firm believer in ownership. We want to figure out a way to include ownership at the highest levels,” he said. “When you talk about vertical integration, there are so many ways to compete in the industry, we want to sure that diversity is represented at each facet of that level.”

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