Cuomo And State Democrats Still At Odds Over How To Legalize Marijuana

After getting sidelined by the pandemic in 2020, marijuana legalization is once again a high priority in Albany this year. Since New Jersey approved a ballot measure legalizing cannabis for adult use in November, advocates say it makes sense that New York would follow on its heels. But tension between the governor and lawmakers over what legalization should look like could still prove to be a sticking point.

Over the past couple of years, sponsors of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act have built up support for the bill in the state legislature, while Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly introduced his own proposal for marijuana legalization in the state budget. This year, advocates and lawmakers who support the MRTA are calling out Cuomo’s latest proposal for not going far enough to remove criminal penalties for marijuana-related offenses and address the harms prohibition has caused communities of color.

“Clearly, his tax proposals are all wrong, clearly his social equity proposals are all wrong, so there are a number of things that need to be fixed and if they’re not fixed, we’ll be here next year doing the same thing,” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said in a Zoom press conference on marijuana legalization last week.

The state projects the cannabis industry will eventually generate more than $300 million in annual tax revenue. Starting in fiscal year 2023, Cuomo has promised to set aside $10 million in tax revenue for a…

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After getting sidelined by the pandemic in 2020, marijuana legalization is once again a high priority in Albany this year. Since New Jersey approved a ballot measure legalizing cannabis for adult use in November, advocates say it makes sense that New York would follow on its heels. But tension between the governor and lawmakers over what legalization should look like could still prove to be a sticking point.

Over the past couple of years, sponsors of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act have built up support for the bill in the state legislature, while Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly introduced his own proposal for marijuana legalization in the state budget. This year, advocates and lawmakers who support the MRTA are calling out Cuomo’s latest proposal for not going far enough to remove criminal penalties for marijuana-related offenses and address the harms prohibition has caused communities of color.

“Clearly, his tax proposals are all wrong, clearly his social equity proposals are all wrong, so there are a number of things that need to be fixed and if they’re not fixed, we’ll be here next year doing the same thing,” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said in a Zoom press conference on marijuana legalization last week.

The state projects the cannabis industry will eventually generate more than $300 million in annual tax revenue. Starting in fiscal year 2023, Cuomo has promised to set aside $10 million in tax revenue for a…

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