New York Gov. Cuomo Promises to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis, Invest in Green Economy in 2020

By Melissa Hutsell

On Jan. 8, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his annual State of the State address a bold plan to shape New York into the progressive capital of the nation.  

The agenda, called Make Progress Happen, includes investments in the green economy, infrastructure, and a plan to legalize adult-use cannabis by the end of the year, among other things. 

As part of the regulatory effort to legalize cannabis, Gov. Cuomo will create an Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The OCM will oversee all of the state’s medical, adult-use, and hemp programs. 

A Green Economy

Additionally, the program will administer social equity licensing opportunities, and “correct past harms to individuals and communities that have disproportionately been impacted by prohibition,” according to a statement by the governor’s office.

Legalization, Cuomo believes, could bring in billions of dollars in tax revenue for the state.

“Our economic growth will be a hollow victory if we do not continue our social progress,” Cuomo said in his State of the State speech. “For decades, communities of color were disproportionately affected by the unequal enforcement of marijuana laws.”

Cuomo said he plans to work with neighboring states—including Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania—to build an equitable, safe industry. He also proposes creating a first of its kind Global Cannabis and Hemp Center for science and education in coordination with the state university system.

However, this is the second regulatory effort Cuomo has made to legalize cannabis, reports Reuters. In 2019, “Cuomo had also declared his intention to legalize marijuana, citing the potential revenues and harm to poorer communities, but the effort foundered in the Democrat-controlled state legislature.” 

If the state manages to legalize adult-use cannabis, it would be the 12th state to do so. 

Also on the Agenda

The governor’s 2020 agenda includes extensive efforts to combat climate change. For starters, he aims to create a $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” Act. The act will be on the ballot this November. If passed, the funds will support restoration efforts across the state. 

Also on the agenda; a ban on styrofoam, and singe use food packaging to go into effect by 2022. 

The Make Progress Happen plan is so comprehensive, it’s presented as a book. In addition to legalization and investments in green energy, it addresses drug reform, domestic terrorism, childhood poverty, and homelessness.

Emerald contributor since February 2016


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