Legal Marijuana Is Coming To New York

Legal Marijuana Is Coming To New York

According to the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), the Empire State is “very close” to legalizing marijuana. 

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) echoed this sentiment on Monday, stating that lawmakers plan to advance the stand-alone legalization bill before passing the budget, which is due on April 1st. However, questions regarding traffic stops and driving while impaired currently have legislators deadlocked.

“We are extremely close. We have reached a little bit of an impasse right now, and it has to do with impaired driving.” State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

No One Wants To Arrest Unlawfully

Law enforcement agencies have expressed concerns that the classification of driving under the influence of cannabis as a traffic infraction would send the wrong message to the public and encourage New Yorkers to drive while intoxicated from marijuana use. The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York maintains that driving while on cannabis should remain a misdemeanor crime.

In its current form, roadside marijuana testing cannot determine how recently a driver may have used cannabis, adding an extra layer of difficulty in policing motorists who use marijuana.

Despite the impasse, Stewart-Cousins remains optimistic about the bill’s eventual passing, saying

“It’s a matter of when, not if.” 

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Originally, Gov. Cuomo included his own version of the legislation in his annual budget request, though it was omitted Monday in a Senate resolution. It seems state legislators would prefer to handle the marijuana issue outside of budget negotiations. 

New York’s Third Opportunity to Legalize Marijuana


This would be New York’s third chance at passing marijuana reform legislation—the last two failed attempts took place as part of Cuomo’s executive budget process. The governor made his eagerness to see legalization finally come to fruition clear with a football analogy, saying, “This is not about getting in the red zone anymore; we have to get over the goal line this time. We need the seven points.”

Past efforts from the governor to bring pot to New York have flopped largely due to disagreements within his own party regarding equity and revenue spending. While state lawmakers sought to spend large swaths of new tax revenue on supporting minority communities that have been disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition, Gov. Cuomo’s previous plans allocated the majority of funds under state control.  

Gov. Cuomo isn’t the only one ready for recreational marijuana to hit the state. According to a recent survey conducted by Sienna College, New Yorkers overwhelmingly support legalizing cannabis for adult use. The poll found that 59% of those surveyed were in favor of legalization, while only a meager 33% were opposed. Last year, in the neighboring state of New Jersey, voters decisively cast ballots in favor of a constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis, allowing lawmakers to set up the necessary regulatory systems for a recreational market.   

During his Monday press conference, Cuomo said, “I think this should’ve passed years ago. I think too many people have been imprisoned, incarcerated, and punished. Too many of those people are Black, Latino, and poor. It’s exaggerated the injustice of the justice system.”

New York Marijuana Legalization Effort About To Get A Big Boost

New York Marijuana Legalization Effort About To Get A Big Boost

New York’s Democratic Party is set to announce its full backing of marijuana legalization—news that broke on the same day that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told reporters an official state study on the impacts of cannabis legalization that he ordered in January will be released “within days.”

The New York Post first reported on Monday that the state Democratic Party intends to adopt marijuana legalization as a central part of its platform. A planning document the Post obtained for a May 23-24 meeting shows the party will formally endorse legalization, emphasizing on the page: “WANT TO HIGHLIGHT THIS.”

“Cuomo is OK with it if it’s the party agenda for approval,” a Democratic source told the Post.

Hours later, Cuomo, speaking to reporters at his Manhattan office at a press conference on other matters, said that his requested report on legalization—which is meant to cover the health, criminal justice, economic and education impacts of reform—will be completed “shortly” and “within days.”

Cuomo is the de facto head of the New York Democratic Party, and so the organization’s expected move is significant, as is the fact that it will be timed closely with the state Department of Health’s official legalization analysis.

It is unlikely that Cuomo would sign off on a party legalization endorsement to be made official just days after a state agency declares ending cannabis prohibition a public health and safety disaster, suggesting that the report may leave supporters of marijuana law reform happy.

The governor’s position on cannabis has shifted over time. He previously described marijuana as a “gateway drug” and rejected the idea that New York was out of step with legalization efforts underway across the U.S.

On Monday, he seemed to say that legalization in nearby states means New York has to adapt.

“To say well, it won’t be in New York I think is to avoid reality at that point,” Cuomo said. “The facts changed on this issue and the facts changed quickly.”

And with polling indicating strong support for reform—63 percent of New Yorkers want to end prohibition, while 32 percent support keeping the status quo, according to a recent Quinnipiac University survey—the governor’s shift isn’t a political shocker. As Marijuana Moment has previously reported, calls for cannabis reform have expanded, particularly among Democrats, as more lawmakers recognize its popularity with voters.

Also of note is the fact that actor Cynthia Nixon, who announced her plan to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary race, has put legalization front and center on her platform.

“It’s time for New York to follow the lead of 8 other states & DC and legalize the recreational use of marijuana,” she tweeted last month. “For me, what it comes down to is this: we have to stop putting people of color in prison for something that white people do with impunity.”

71 percent of New York Democrats are on board with legalization, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Marijuana Legalization Effort About To Get A Big Boost

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

If it were up to voters, marijuana would be legal in New York.

In a new poll released Thursday, 63 percent in the state back ending cannabis prohibition, compared to just 32 percent who want to continue marijuana’s criminal status.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), for now, continues to oppose legalization but is showing signs of shifting his position on the issue amidst a primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, who is making the issue a centerpiece of her campaign.

In the new survey, conducted by Quinnipiac University, 71 percent of Democrats are on board with legalization.

When asked whether “someone who is black and uses marijuana is more likely to be arrested than someone who is white and uses marijuana,” 82 percent of Democrats agreed, while only 28 percent of Republicans acknowledged well-documented racial disparities in cannabis arrests.

While not yet endorsing legalization, Cuomo has ordered the state Department of Health to conduct a study on its effects in other states that have ended prohibition and its possible impact in New York.

Last week, a separate Quinnipiac poll found that 63 percent of U.S. voters support legalizing marijuana.

Record-High Support For Legal Marijuana, New Poll Shows

 

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

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