Legal Weed Could Come to New York by Early 2019
American politics may be bleak these days, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just proposed something that may take the edge off. On Monday, the recently re-elected -- and definitely-not-running-for-president -- democrat announced plans to push for the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York in 2019.
Cuomo, who called marijuana a “gateway drug” just last year, delivered the long-awaited proposal as part of a speech in Manhattan outlining his plans for the first 100 days of his third term. He addressed disparities in the criminal justice system, which he said favors “the wealthy and the well off” while targeting “the African American and minority communities” in respect to marijuana-related crimes.
“The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else,” Cuomo said. “Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all.”
I just laid out my 2019 agenda for the first 100 days of the next legislative session. Now is the time for New York to stand up and deliver on the promise of full, true justice for all. There’s no time to wait. #2019JusticeAgenda. pic.twitter.com/A9Ewdyp2o8— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 17, 2018
In addition to patching up the broken criminal justice system in New York, Cuomo’s push for marijuana legalization is expected to rake in some serious cash for the state. Apparently public transit fare hikes and astronomically high taxes just aren’t cutting it anymore. Per an estimate by The New York Times, legalizing recreational weed could bring in more than $1.7 billion in sales per year. That’s a whole lotta green.
Cuomo’s legalization plan is expected to earn approval from state lawmakers. Pro-pot Democrats hold the majority in the State Senate and New York City democrats make up a huge portion of the Assembly. Forget a blue wave, we’re sensing a purple haze coming on.
To date, 10 other states and Washington, DC have legalized recreational marijuana use -- some more recently than others -- and even more have allowed some form of medical marijuana use. Each has seen comparable revenue to projections for New York, and they’re not letting the profit go up in smoke. Most have put the revenue toward important initiatives, like schools and transportation, helping the homeless, and funding scholarships.
Although Cuomo’s ultra-chill proposal hasn’t been pushed through just yet, New Yorkers are already making plans for spending all that green. One idea seeing a lot of support within the five boroughs is, of course, using the cash to fix the subway system, which is in need of about $43 billion in repairs (suddenly everything makes sense). Another idea being floated is putting revenue from weed purchased at legal dispensaries back into communities of color which, as previously stated, are often unjustly affected by drug laws.
Cuomo has yet to provide further details on his plans for marijuana legalization, so we’ll just have to wait and see exactly how it will work, where the money will go, and when legal weed will be available across the state. In the meantime, prepare to puff, puff pass some legally purchased pot, New Yorkers.