Governor Andrew Cuomo confidently stated that New York will legalize adult-use marijuana in his state of the state address on Monday.
“We will legalize adult-use recreational cannabis, joining 15 other states who’ve already done so,” Cuomo said in the speech. “This will raise revenue and will end the over-criminalization of this product that has left so many communities of color over-policed and over-incarcerated.”
This statement follows last week’s announcement that he would pursue legislation in 2021 to establish a legal market for marijuana in New York, which would effectively end marijuana prohibition in New York State and create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol for adults over the age of 21.
New York lawmakers pre-filed a bill to legalize marijuana last week. The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Liz Krueger (D) and 18 other lawmakers. The new legislation is identical to a version she filed last year which never went further than being filed.
Melissa Moore, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance and member of Start SMART NY Coalition (Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade) said, “By including marijuana reform in today’s State of the State address, Gov. Cuomo has signaled that this is a top priority in this year’s legislative session. When it comes to responsibly regulating marijuana, it’s critical that we don’t just get this done, but we get it right. Equity must be the guiding force, and we will continue to work with the Governor’s administration and legislative leaders to ensure any new law comprehensively addresses the harms to communities wrought by the war on drugs through dedicated community reinvestment. New Yorkers are more ready than ever to create a new paradigm for marijuana reform. Let’s make 2021 the year for marijuana justice.”
Under the Governor’s proposal, a new Office of Cannabis Management would be created to oversee the new adult-use program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Once fully implemented, legalization is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue.