Should New York legalize marijuana to combat COVID? Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor, recently said that legalizing marijuana represents a realistic way that the state can recover economically from the COVID pandemic.
The governor was promoting his new book during a virtual event and was asked when New York will legalize marijuana for adult use. Cuomo stated, “Shortly, because today we need the revenue. I have tried to do it the over the last couple of years.”, according to a recording which has been obtained by USA Today Network.
The governor also stated, “There are a whole lot of reasons to have it done, but one of the advantages is it also brings in revenue, and all sates, especially New York, need revenue and we are going to be searching the cupboards for revenue. And I believe that will place cannabis over the top.”
Andrew Cuomo supports marijuana legalization and included cannabis legalization in his past two budget proposals, but discussions between his office and the legislature dropped through each time, with sticking points being issues like how cannabis tax earnings will be allocated, preventing a deal from being negotiated. A leading adviser of his stated earlier this month that the strategy would be to attempt again to legalize cannabis in New York in early 2021.
Cuomo was likewise asked about cannabis legalization as a way to offset the budget deficit brought on by the coronavirus pandemic in May. So it is obvious he believes New York should legalize marijuana to combat COVID. While he said it is the federal government’s “obligation as part of managing this national pandemic that they will provide financial relief to state and local authorities,” he also stated that “I support legalization of cannabis passing. I’ve worked very diligently to pass it.”
Cuomo indicated in April that he believed the legislative session was “effectively over” for the year and increased doubts that lawmakers could pass marijuana reform.
Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assembly Majority Leader, made similar remarks when asked about the reform issues in April, though she appeared to indicate that she laid partial blame for the failure to enact reform on the governor prioritizing different issues throughout the pandemic.
The New York State Association of Counties stated in a report published last month that legalizing recreational cannabis “will offer the state and counties with resources for education, public health and technical assistance” to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the state Senate has approved several small marijuana reform bills lately. The chamber passed a bill in July that broadens the pool of individuals qualified to have their low-level marijuana convictions automatically expunged.
As a result of a bill expanding cannabis decriminalization in the nation the governor signed this past year, the New York State Unified Court System made a statement last month outlining steps people can take to clear their records for prior cannabis convictions. Support continues to grow that New York should legalize marijuana to combat COVID.