NewsUSNew York Senator Says Legal Cannabis Not Likely This Year

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday he doesn't think legal marijuana is feasible, noting there wasn't enough votes to push a bill through the state Senate.
Avatar David JJune 4, 20195 min

Marijuana isn’t going to be legalized in New York, at least not this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday he doesn’t think it is feasible, noting there wasn’t enough votes to push a bill through the state Senate. With the legislative session ending on June 19, time is running out and the governor doesn’t expect much to change by then:

“I don’t think it matters how much I push in 11 days. I think when the Senate says they don’t have the votes, I take them at their word,” Cuomo told reporters.

Legalization was on the table earlier this month, but it didn’t progress as Cuomo hoped, and now it looks like 2020 might be more realistic for legal marijuana in New York. Although it appears it’s inevitable it will eventually happen, it will come down to Cuomo being able to get more senators to jump on board once details on how tax revenues will be allocated.

New Jersey could legalize cannabis in 2020

New Jersey also abandoned its efforts last month to legalize pot through its legislature.  Instead, it’s going to let voters decide the issue in the 2020 U.S. elections–an option that is not allowed in New York.  Using a referendum has been the most effective way for states to legalize cannabis recreationally, with nine of 11 states letting voters decide so far.

Cuomo believes that New Jersey’s decision to delay the issue could have contributed to New York’s hesitation:

“I also think when New Jersey didn’t pass it, some of the wind came out of the political sail,” Cuomo said.

Advocates for legalization were hopeful with Democrats currently running both Senate and House they would push the legislation through, after eight previous years of Republicans controlling the Senate. Cannabis activists frequently traveled to Albany, the state’s Capitol, to voice their full support for legalization.

Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, said he was hopeful for marijuana legalization would pass, and noted that many surrounding states have done so already or are getting close to legal reform.

Meanwhile, across the U.S., Massachusetts recently opened for business, while Michigan legalized back in November, and Illinois passed a bill legalizing marijuana last week. With 11 states having legalized pot, it appears it’s having a domino effect and New York and New Jersey could be further catalysts for surrounding states to follow.

States that have legislatures controlled by the Democrats, legalizing cannabis appears to be only a matter of time. Polls suggest voter support is certainly there, at least in urban centers, and it’s just a matter of getting the right policy framework in place with enough lawmakers on board.


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