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Since he won last fall’s gubernatorial election, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has emphasized his newfound desire to legalize recreational cannabis in the Empire State. From legalization’s potential to curb racially-biased policing, to fixing the Big Apple’s broken subways, Cuomo is finally convinced that drug reform can help solve New York’s social and economic woes. Now he just has to persuade the rest of the state government.
To advance his legalization goals as quickly and swiftly as possible, Cuomo has inserted the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act into his office’s annual budget. But with that budget due April 1st, local and state authorities are not yet convinced that the governor’s office has covered all of its bases in time to legalize on such an expedited timeline.
"There continues to be a reluctance by the state Legislature to take this up in the next four weeks that we have to enact the state budget. It appears to be too comprehensive, too much too soon for the state Legislature," Stephen Acquario, executive director of New York State Association of Counties, told WNYF.
The Association of Counties has already proposed that Cuomo increase the plan’s local legal weed tax rate from 2% to 4%, but without the final proposal available to county officials, some local leaders say that they are waiting until the act is presented before espousing judgement.
"It's something I'd obviously like to take a look at what the final product is," Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello told WHEC. "I don't think anybody really knows yet what New York is going to do."
Cuomo’s office is currently working with state lawmakers to finalize the details of the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act, but if it is not approved in time for the April 1st budget deadline, state officials expect the legalization matter to be taken up by a separate but subsequent bill in the state legislature.
"It's in the governor's budget, we're hearing that might be exiting the budget and put into a stand alone bill," Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo told WHEC. "Right now we're looking at this very complex issue."
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