In New York, Governor Cuomo (once more) vows to legalize marijuana


After two attempts to fully legalize cannabis, New York appears to be one of the next states to hit the milestone. This is the result of an announcement made by Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 6th.

The statement came the same day Georgia swung the U.S. Senate over to Democrats and a mob attacked the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, causing the message to get somewhat lost in the shuffle. Its importance is difficult to exaggerate, however: New York is the fourth largest state in the United States with a population of 19.4 million.

This is the third year in a row that New York has considered legalization. Two previous attempts were thwarted by disputes over licensing and revenue distribution issues. But 2021 is different. In the November elections, the Democrats won a super majority, which enables them to dampen right-wing opposition, even if centrist Cuomo threatens to veto them.

But it doesn’t sound like the governor is raising any obstacles regarding cannabis. “I am announcing a proposal to legalize cannabis and create an equitable cannabis program for adults [New York State]”Cuomo tweeted on Wednesday.” This program will generate much-needed revenue while also allowing us to support those most harmed by decades of failed cannabis prohibitions. ”


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A fully worked out plan

Cuomo’s fully baked proposal has several well-known components that, once ratified, could go into effect later in 2021.

Adults over the age of 21 could buy marijuana from retail stores licensed and overseen by a newly created Office of Cannabis Management.

The numbers are remarkable: officials estimate that legalization would raise an estimated $ 300 million in tax revenue annually to the treasury. The state, like many others, has been hit by the financial devastation caused by COVID-19. Officials estimate they will face $ 63 billion in red ink over the next four years.

Correct historical errors

But the move in New York is not only excessive. Cuomo’s proposal also envisages reversing some of the historic damage caused by the failed war on drugs, “establishing the most ambitious and progressive legalization program in the US, and legalizing cannabis from a social justice perspective,” in which other states fell short “.

The program he is pursuing will incorporate “Community Reinvestment, Justice and Justice” as its core tenets. Cuomo called the state’s “appalling history of racist marijuana enforcement”.


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Reinvest tax money in badly affected communities

The plan would reinvest cannabis revenues in communities hardest hit by drug enforcement and support small businesses and farmers. This is welcome news for progressives who have been pushing for such reinvestment in the past just to get Cuomo to keep control of the earnings.

The program is to be developed in partnership with the Smart Smart NY Coalition, comprised of organizations and advocates dedicated to criminal justice reform, civil rights, public health and community building.

Dave Howard

Dave Howard is a national magazine editor and award-winning author. His latest book is Chasing Phil: The Adventures of Two Undercover Agents with the World’s Most Charming Con.

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Beth Edmonds