New York could be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a speech on the morning of December 17th that he intends to push for legalization in 2019.
“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” Cuomo said during a press conference, which was held to describe his agenda for the first 100 days of his new term as governor.
It’s a hard change from Cuomo’s policies during his previous two terms. He called marijuana a “gateway drug” just last year, according to The New York Times. Now, he said, “Facts have changed.” One of the biggest changes is that 10 states and Washington, DC have already legalized recreational cannabis, including nearby Massachusetts, and tri-state neighbor New Jersey is inching closer to legalizing cannabis through legislative action.
During the announcement, Cuomo said that New York has “two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else,” adding that injustice “for too long targeted the African American and minority communities.”
Cuomo commissioned New York’s Department of Health to study the impact of legal marijuana in July, and the report found strong benefits to taxing and regulating the market. The taxes could bring in $1.3 billion a year.
The exact details of how legalization would happen and the timeline are unclear, but a May poll showed that 63 percent of New Yorkers favored legalization, and any bills about marijuana are expected to pass through the State Senate, which has a Democrat majority for the first time in 10 years after November’s election. Even without a timeline, Cuomo’s comments have many New Yorkers in a hempire state of mind.
H/T: News 12 Long Island