New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Make a Third Attempt at Legalization

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been making attempts to legalize cannabis in New York for some time now. 

While both his 2019 and 2020 efforts ultimately ended in failure, he is now trying to legalize adult-use cannabis for the third time. 

 

“[…] This Should Have Been Passed Years ago”

During his daily press briefing on Wednesday, Jan. 6th, Cuomo announced a new proposal to legalize and regulate cannabis in New York as a part of the 2021 State of the State. 

This time around, however, the governor suggests that legalizing cannabis can help combat the state’s projected $15 billion deficit amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a statement by Cuomo’s office, the legal industry is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue per year. 

“I think this should have been passed years ago,” Cuomo said in the video. “This is the year we do need the funding and a lot of New Yorkers are struggling, so I think this year will give us the momentum to get it over the goal line.” 

 

Opportunities to Correct Long-standing Wrongs

In his latest attempt, the governor also acknowledged the need to end the destructive impact that the War on Drugs has on communities of color. 

Social justice advocates criticized Cuomo’s 2020 legalization proposal for failing to set aside money for those most affected by prohibition.

The 2021 proposal includes the creation of an Office of Cannabis Management. The office would monitor and regulate both the new adult-use program as well as the current medical use program. It would also oversee licensing opportunities for those previously impacted by law enforcement efforts against cannabis. 

“Despite the many challenges New York has faced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also created a number of opportunities to correct long-standing wrongs and build New York back better than ever before,” Cuomo stated. “Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provides the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities and that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

The proposal is expected to be a central point for the governor during his State of the State Address on Monday, Jan. 11th.

Emerald contributor since June 2019

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