NY Governor Wants Recreational Marijuana Contained in State Budget

NY Governor Wants Recreational Marijuana Contained in State Budget

In mid-December last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plans to move forward toward legalizing adult-use cannabis. The announcement marked a severe heel-turn for its three-term incumbent. As recently as 2017, Cuomo was espousing anti-legalization talking points. But a re-election bid against innovative rival Cynthia Nixon last year forced the governor to revise his position. The budget is due by March 31, and at that time New Yorkers will have their first real glimpse at what legal cannabis could look like.

NY Gov. Cuomo Gives Lawmakers 100 Days to Legalize Pot

For someone whose pro-legalization position on weed took over a decade to form, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t giving lawmakers time to propose legislation legalizing cannabis. In actuality, Cuomo says he wants a bill on his desk at the first 100 days of 2019, the start of his third term as governor.

Including legalization in the state budget proposal is 1 way to get the ball rolling toward this 100-day goal, and quickly. But the mere possibility of bringing legal weed into a vote in the state Assembly is so new, that Democratic lawmakers don’have no clear sense what a legal, taxed and regulated adult use program might look like.

After the 2018 midterms, Democrats now hold a majority in the New York Senate fo2r the first time in a number of years. Republican state senators have historically blocked votes on legalization. And with resistance from the governor himself, minority Democrats turned toward piecemeal decriminalization measures over broad reforms.

Nevertheless, the innovative push in New York politics has changed the calculus. And a shrewd politician like Cuomo will reposition accordingly. It’s not as if anyone has forgotten that Cuomo was against adult-use legalization in 2017. And so justice and health reform advocates are calling Cuomo out. They state his pivot on legal weed is a cynical political move.

Health and Justice Reform Advocates Say Cuomo’s Rushed Plan Prioritizes Profit Over People

Still, it isn’t a position that came out of the blue. In 2018, Cuomo signed off on a massive medical cannabis program expansion and commissioned the NY Department of Health to research the impact of adult use legalization, taxation and regulation. When that study issued recommendations that New York moves forward with an adult-use program, Cuomo had little choice but to concede.

Despite these indications, however, Democratic lawmakers don’t appear ready with a vision of what legal weed might look like. Where will it be sold? What types of businesses will be allowed and where? How will the state redress the injuries of criminalizing marijuana? All the major questions still require answers. Because of this, even long-time legalization advocates are worried Cuomo’s 100-day agenda is moving too quickly and putting the incorrect things first.

And that’s given lawmakers who don’t fully support legalization a foothold to challenge it. Republican Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh issued a statement accusing Cuomo of being too focused on possible tax revenue from legal weed and losing sight of health and community influences. “We can’t let such a large change be jammed through the legislative process without appropriate consideration and review,” she said.

In any event, lawmakers will have until March 31 to assess and consider it. That’s once the state budget that will include legalizing cannabis is expected. And the fact is that a strong majority of New Yorkers want legal weed. They’re going to get it. But what kind of law they’ll get remains to be seen.

Released at Thu, 03 Jan 2019 20:04:07 +0000

Posted in: News

Comments are closed.