Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted Monday that New York will pass a law to legalize recreational pot before the Legislature adjourns in June.
“We will get marijuana done, it’s not a question of political desire, it’s a question of practical reality of how you put the new system in place,” Cuomo said on WAMC radio.
Advocates are disappointed the policy was not included in the just-adopted $175 billion state budget — and worry that a stand-alone bill will be tougher to get through the Legislature.
“This is going to be more difficult to pass as a stand-alone bill outside the budget. Look what happened in New Jersey last week,” said state Sen. Diane Savino (D-S.I.), noting the legislature there lacked the votes despite strong backing from Gov. Phil Murphy.
Of the 10 other states that have legalized recreational weed, only one — Vermont — has done so through a vote of the legislature.
Voters in all the others gave their blessing via referendum.
“This is unfortunate. It’s a case of lawmakers making the perfect the enemy of the good. The voters are way ahead of the legislators on marijuana legalization,” Savino said.
Public opinion polls consistently show that a majority of New York voters favor pot legalization.
But there’s also intense oppositio
The executives of New York’s two most populous suburban counties — Laura Curran in Nassau and Steve Bellone in Suffolk — announced they would opt out of selling recreational weed in their jurisdictions.
Cuomo and lawmakers are grappling with concerns raised from across the political spectrum that include a push from social justice advocates to provide economic opportunities and expunging criminal records for marijuana.
The governor said it “won’t be easy,” but the challenges are not insurmountable.
“You still need to control and regulate. You don’t want 14-year-olds having access to marijuana, so how you do it is frankly the tougher part of the equation. In the rush of the budget, we couldn’t do it intelligently. We have the whole rest of the session [to get it done],” Cuomo said.