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New York Gov. Cuomo vows to legalize soon

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New York Gov. Cuomo vows to legalize soon


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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s making legalizing cannabis in the state a priority for his first 100 days after being reelected in November. Cuomo had previously expressed support for legalizing, after years of being against it, but now it appears he’s trying to expedite the process.

“We have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and well off, and one for everyone else,” Cuomo said. “And that’s going to end.”

“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana, once and for all,” he said.

As we’ve previously reported, part of the reason Cuomo changed his position on legalization is that he was challenged by fellow Democrat Cynthia Nixon during New York’s primary. She made legalization a central part of her platform, which pushed Cuomo to the left. It looks like he’s sticking to the position he came to during the primary.

Doug Greene, legislative director of New York’s NORML office, said that activists have to use everything at their disposal to convince politicians who are not already pro-legalization to become supporters. He said primarying them, showing them the polling data and more can be effective.

“So far we’re pleased with the debate that’s focused on restitution and reparations for communities most affected by prohibition,” Greene said. However, he said the details of what policies will make it into the law are still unclear, and they won’t know if it’s going to look how they want it to until mid-January.

Greene said New York legalizing would be a huge deal for the region, the country and beyond. He pointed out that New York is one of the world’s largest cannabis markets, and the state could become a “hub for marijuana research, finance, and agriculture.”

“Legalization is a process, not an event,” Green said. He said laws will be drafted and amended multiple times over the next couple of years, and hopefully, they’ll end up with cannabis policies that are a model for the rest of the country.

When New York legalizes, that will mean two of the top five most populated states in the U.S. will have legalized, since California has already done so. That means a lot of money for the industry and a big step forward in destigmatizing cannabis generally. If centrist Democrats like Cuomo are starting to support legalization, it seems likely that pretty soon the whole party will be behind it.

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