In a speech given on Monday, December 17th, 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his support for the outright legalization of cannabis in the state of New York. “Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” Cuomo exclaimed during his allotted speaking time at the New York City Bar Association in Midtown. Though Cuomo’s announcement carries a different message than previous comments he has made calling cannabis a “gateway drug,” it reflects the sentiment of a vast majority of New Yorkers who believe it is finally time for cannabis to be legalized.
Cuomo Is Not Alone
Governor Cuomo’s announcement had somewhat of a ripple effect in his state. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is now expected to announce his support for cannabis legalization. Similar to Cuomo, mayor de Blasio has been critical of cannabis legalization efforts in the past. He once feared that legalization would allow cannabis companies to market to children, “…with the goal of trying to hook as many young people as possible on marijuana for the profit of those companies.”
Cuomo and de Blasio are by far the most powerful political figures in the state of New York and both hold political clout amongst Democrats throughout the United States. It is not a stretch to imagine that the legalization measures pushed by Cuomo and de Blasio could take hold in other parts of the country. There is even the possibility that the federal government could implement some of its own legalization measures in the coming years based on the success of New York’s prospective cannabis legalization program.
New York Cannabis Legalization Possibilities
How recreational cannabis legalization would play out in a busting east coast state like New York remains to be seen. New Jersey recently legalized cannabis but its regulatory framework is still in the development stages. According to the New York Post, Governor Cuomo is pushing for framework that works for cities across the entire state. “New York City can’t legalize marijuana, Buffalo can’t legalize marijuana. You need a state law, you need a state framework. No city or county can make a law that is applicable,” Cuomo said. “There are many opinions. We will listen to all of them.”
The drastic policy shift made by both Cuomo and de Blasio is an important development for progress in New York. It signals to New Yorkers that the two most important public officials in their state are beginning to pay attention to the wants and needs of their constituents. It would be another feather in the cap of the cannabis legalization movement if and when New York cannabis legalization finally occurs.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.