Marijuana Expected to be Legalized in New York in 2021
Democrats and Republicans in New York State believe recreational marijuana will soon be legal across New York State.
In late December, New York State Republican leaders outlined their top priorities for 2021. Among those top priorities is to legalize recreational marijuana, News 10 reports.
“There’s still back and forth, but I suspect this year this will actually get done,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R) told WWNY about New York State legalizing recreational weed in 2021.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes the time is "ripe" to legalize recreational marijuana across New York State. Cuomo, who has supported legalizing marijuana for years, thinks the state will legalize weed because New York needs the tax revenue from marijuana sales to boost the budget. New York State is billions of dollars in red, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The question becomes about the money and the distribution and the power. I think this year it is ripe, because the state is going to be desperate for funding, even with Biden, even with stimulus, even with everything else, we’re still going to be desperate for funding - and it’s also the right policy," Cuomo said during an interview WAMC radio.
In January 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo promised New Yorkers legal marijuana is coming real soon. He pledged in his State of the State Address to legalize marijuana in New York State by the end of 2020 to help the state deal with a $6 billion budget gap.
Cuomo previously said legalizing marijuana could bring $300 million in tax revenue to the state every year and billions more once the program is fully running.
In February, according to the governor's office, Cuomo hoped to see marijuana legalized in New York for adult use by April, which is when the state budget had to be approved. At the time, he announced plans to travel to Massachusetts, Illinois, Colorado and California to see what has worked in those states that legalized weed and what hasn't worked in hopes of getting it right in New York.
In early April, just before the budget was approved, he said it wasn't likely that marijuana would be legalized in 2020. He said legalizing the drug was one of the most complicated issues he has faced and he didn't have the time to work on legalizing marijuana as he dealt with the outbreak of COVID-19.
In May, New York State lawmakers pushed for marijuana to be legalized to help the state deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In October, Axel Bernabe, Gov. Cuomo's top marijuana advisor, said in an interview with Canopy Growth Corp.’s David Culver that Cuomo will once again introduce a bill to legalize marijuana in New York State in January 2021.
Bernabe told Culver a bill to legalize cannabis will be included in the state budget in January 2021, which is expected to be passed in April.
"We’re working on this. We’re going to reintroduce this in our budget in January. We think we can get it done by April 1,” Bernabe said when speaking of New York legalizing marijuana. "We are really focused with a compressive bill. We are really proud of that bill."