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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo believes the need for funding and the ongoing struggles associated with the COVID-19 pandemic will give him and his team the momentum necessary to get recreational use of marijuana legalized in the state.
"We will legalize adult-use recreational cannabis, joining 15 states that have already done so," Gov. Cuomo said on Monday. "This will raise revenue and end the failed prohibition of this product that has left so many communities of color over-policed and over-incarcerated."
Gov. Cuomo also briefly touched on the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, which was previously legalized at the medical level, in a speech outlining his 2021 agenda.
"Those, my friends, are the immediate issues for our focus: crushing COVID and the short-term economic consequences for our state," he said, adding that he was also proposing state-sponsored mobile sports betting to help raise additional funds for New York.
Earlier this month, Gov. Cuomo unveiled a proposal aimed at legalizing and creating an equitable adult-use cannabis program. Per Cuomo, the proposal represented an opportunity for the state to correct "longstanding wrongs" while building the state back "better than ever before."
As with other states that have already launched legal recreational markets, the New York proposal would not allow the sale of weed or weed-related products to anyone under the age of 21. The proposal also builds on Cuomo's 2019 signing of legislation that decriminalized the penalties associated with unlawful possession of marijuana and introduced a process for expunging records for certain weed-related convictions.
Meanwhile, at the federal level, advocates for marijuana law reform are hopeful that a new administration (as well as an advantage in the Senate) will mean legislation pushes will actually stand a fighting chance in the years ahead.