Governor Cuomo Promises (Again) That New York Will Legalize Weed in 2020
Cuomo has half-heartedly tried to push legalization before, but this week the governor insisted that major cannabis reform will happen in New York before the end of the year.
Published on January 9, 2020

If New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has it his way, adult-use cannabis will be legal in the Empire State before the year is over. 

In Governor Cuomo’s annual State of the State speech ringing in 2020’s first session of the state legislature, the third-term Governor addressed New York’s complicated budget woes, climate change, and a number of progressive policy goals, including legalizing weed.

“For decades, communities of color were disproportionately affected by the unequal enforcement of marijuana laws,” Mr. Cuomo told a crowd of legislators and state officials, according to the New York Times. “Let’s legalize adult use of marijuana.”

New York has seen past legalization proposals die on the vine, with last year’s legislative push from Cuomo’s office running into significant backlash from both anti-cannabis state legislators and left-wing lawmakers who did not think the proposal did enough to address social equity and racial justice.

In his speech on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Cuomo said that he would work with neighboring Pennsylvania and New Jersey in an attempt to create a unified cannabis legalization push. But with New Jersey already approving a legalization vote for the upcoming statewide ballot in November, Cuomo’s office later clarified that New York’s own legalization pursuit would not be dependent on other states.

Cuomo also added that while the state confronts a $6 billion deficit, a recreational cannabis market could bring $300 million a year in tax revenue, as well as job opportunities and economic benefits. 

The Empire State passed cannabis decriminalization measures and expanded medical marijuana laws in 2019. But despite those efforts, a lack of formal legalization has led to New York police continuing their racially-biased persecution of people of color for minor pot crimes. 

Governor Cuomo did not mention in his speech whether or not his office would be releasing the same cannabis legalization proposal that legislators shot down last year, or if he would introduce a revised plan for the new decade.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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