Instead of waiting until his address to the people in January, as is traditionally done by most elected politicians across the nation, Governor Andrew Cuomo instead chose to layout his upcoming plans for New York State in mid-December. And in what may or may not be a surprising statement, depending on which version of the governor you are most familiar with, he announced that one of his main agendas involves plans to move full steam ahead with the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.
During his time in office (since 2011), the governor has spent quite some time opposing the usefulness of marijuana, both for revenue and medical purposes, believing it to be a “gateway drug”, opening people up to the abuse of harder substances. But today, he believes that it will now be a gateway key to the reinvigoration the state’s economy. And according to a recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, more than half (63 percent) of residents in the state agree with him about legalization. The cannabis industry is also, of course, celebrating this announcement, as it will be a quite a boon for them. And after the contributions that many cannabis companies made to the Cuomo campaign, it feels like a deserved victory.
While medical marijuana was legalized in New York in 2014 (but with very strict limitations until only just 2016), by legalizing recreational marijuana, Cuomo is now taking a page out of states like California and Colorado’s very profitable books, and he believes that the payoffs will be equally as plentiful. New York State could potentially make upwards of $1.7 billion per year from recreational marijuana sales and that’s only just a rough estimate. This extra tax money can be used to make major improvements for the state in areas that have been lacking much-needed funding, such as education and infrastructure.
Not only that, but he also feels that the legalization will help to correct the frequently-biased justice system, which tends to target African Americans and minorities for marijuana infractions. Another crucial perk is the possibility that having marijuana available recreationally will help to decrease opioid abuse, a problem that is currently gripping the entire country. The potentials ups of legalization hold much more weight than any downsides.
While the legalization of recreational marijuana was probably the most controversial of his 2019 agenda, Cuomo also discussed his fears about the current administration-likening himself to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States and also New York State Governor from 1928-1932–and his other ideas involving ensuring immigrant safety, controlling climate change, improving mass transit conditions, regulating allowable election contributions, safeguarding patients with pre-existing conditions, and improving gun control laws.
Over the years, residents have seen many of the governor’s propositions go by the wayside, with the blame often placed on the Republican-controlled Senate, but after the Democratic win this past November, the likelihood of the legalization of recreational marijuana and many of Cuomo’s other propositions is much higher than ever before.