With New Jersey’s recent win on the marijuana legalization front, New York may be gaining momentum. Gov. Cuomo has added pressure on lawmakers to legalize marijuana in New York.
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Just days ago, New Jersey approved a referendum to legalize recreational cannabis. The victory came with voters approving the measure by a landslide on the Nov. 3 ballot, after a years-long journey to get the non-medicinal pot to be legal in the Garden State. 

New York next in line to legalize

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently stated that New York should be next in line to legalize. He said that the pressure was on state lawmakers to make it happen. 

Cuomo, a Democrat, intends to advance a framework to regulate and tax marijuana as part of his annual state budget proposal in January. This would be Cuomo’s third try, despite the support he holds from both the Democratic leaders of the State Assembly and Senate. 

Proposals have previously been dropped

Neither of them has prioritized taking a vote on marijuana legalization while being dropped from the budget in previous years. 

However, New Jersey’s recent marijuana win has set up the perfect stage to push for legislation and join the increasingly growing list of states that have legalized pot. The timing for these measures seems right, as legislators can broaden their criteria and work on the points that prevented any laws to pass. 

Revenue from tax pot could help NY’s financial deficit

The biggest consideration narrows down to the financial deficit the state – and most of the country, for that matter – faces due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo says that New York is in dire need for the money that tax revenue from legal marijuana could bring to the table. 

While there are no specific guidelines to what a marijuana legalization bill would look like for New York, profit from legal marijuana sales could greatly help the billion-dollar deficit they face economically. 

NJ’s connectivity could make cross-border traffic of marijuana happen

Neighboring states like Massachusetts and Vermont have already approved adult use of marijuana. As the newest addition to the party, New Jersey’s connectivity with New York through mass-transit systems could make cross-border traffic of ilegal marijuana happen. 

This would bring an even stronger point to the legalization prospect in New York. 

Bill unlikely to come before mid-2021

Despite the momentum, it’s unlikely any related bills will come before mid-2021. Cuomo has also agreed that for his state, this year might be “ripe” to legalize cannabis, since they would struggle to find funding to begin with. 

Other concerns also include legislators having a difficult time deciding who would oversee all legal cannabis operations and how to distribute the revenue. If the example of other state’s legislation development serves any purpose, this process could even take years. 

Revenue to help communities

Sponsors of a marijuana legalization bill in New York believe that all the revenue should not only cover financial deficits, but should also set aside a percentage of resources to help communities most damaged by the War on Drugs. 

Estimates say that New York could make upwards of four hundred five hundred million dollars every year. 

Medical Marijuana already legal

As it stands, medical marijuana is currently legal in New York. It’s regulated by the Department of Health of the state and available only for patients with specific medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, etcetera. 

New states on board with recreational marijuana

This past Election Day, at least 4 states voted to legalize marijuana. Many states with medical marijuana programs broadened their spectrum to allow recreational weed. 

Most importantly, several changes were made in regards to record expungments for marijuana-related crimes. 

It’s still unclear if New York will be able to get its foot on the table this January, but with the push this election brought in, it’s clear legislators will definitely try. 

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