New Yorkers will likely have to wait another year before getting legal weed. The state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said Tuesday that legalization for recreational marijuana use will not be included in this year’s budget deal.
“Not likely,” the Democrat said at a press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic. “Too much, too little time.” Cuomo had included a plan for legalization in his budget proposal. The deadline for the budget is Tuesday, when the state’s fiscal year ends. Cuomo said last month that he doubted legalization could get done outside the budget.
The news marks another disappointment for the legalization effort in the Empire State. In his annual State of the State address in January, Cuomo called for an end to the state’s prohibition on pot. “New York at her best is the progressive capital of the nation, and we must fulfill that destiny again this year,” he said at the time.
A Long Road To Legal Pot
It was a renewal of a failed effort from the year before, when Cuomo had called for a coordinated cross-state legalization policy with Connecticut. He and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont held a summit last fall, where Cuomo said they were “serious in this state about legalizing recreational use of marijuana, but it has to be done right.”
The summit was designed to focus on a number of issues related to legalization, including: taxation, product safety and testing, product availability and advertising, roadside testing, banking and financial services, and necessary social justice and equity considerations in the legalization framework.
Last year’s effort fizzled in both states, but Lamont once again called for coordinated legalization in his own state of the state address last month.
“Like it or not, legalized marijuana is a short drive away in Massachusetts and New York is soon to follow,” said Lamont, who is in the second year of his first term as governor. “Coordinated regional regulation is our best chance to protect public health by displacing illicit sellers with trusted providers.”
“Right now, what you can buy legally in Massachusetts could land you in prison for up to a year in Connecticut,” he added. “We just marked the 100th anniversary of prohibition. How did that work out? The patchwork of cannabis and vaping laws are impossible to enforce.”