Could there be hope for legalization in New York, after all? A trio of lawmakers in the state hope so.

On Thursday, State Senators Jamaal Bailey, Brad Hoylman, and Jessica Ramos, all Democrats, joined with Legal Aid Society,  a New York City-based nonprofit, in calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to implement a series of legislation aimed at helping minority communities, which have been particularly hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “We urgently need marijuana legalization rooted in racial and economic justice,” Bailey, Hoylman, and Ramos said in a statement, as quoted by Patch. 

Patch reported that the legislators’ measures address “concerns over housing, job loss and workers’ rights and the criminal justice system, and includes a bill to provide COVID-19 rental assistance, a worker bailout program funded by a billionaire tax, parole reform and, lastly, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.” 

The piece of the legislation concerning legalization would allow “New Yorkers over the age of 21 to use, grow and sell cannabis through a licensed and taxable system overseen by the state, which lawmakers argued could bring much needed cash flow to low income communities,” according to Patch.

The Continued Efforts To Legalize Cannabis In New York

The legislation could resuscitate hopes among legalization advocates that appeared to have been extinguished in March, at the outset of the coronavirus crisis. At that time, Cuomo ruled out a legalization framework being included in the state’s budget proposal. Cuomo, who was just beginning to employ measures that would bring much of New York to a virtual shutdown, said at the time there was just not enough time to include such a measure before the budget deadline. 

It seemed like a blow for a legalization effort that was also stymied in the New York legislatures last year. At the beginning of the year, Cuomo once again called for an end to prohibition against adult use pot use. The three Democratic lawmakers said Thursday that the coronavirus has only spurred the need further for legalization.

“The pandemic has compounded the long-standing disparate effects of economic deprivation on communities of color,” they said in their statement. “That deprivation has been exacerbated by marijuana prohibition.”

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