When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his full-throated support for marijuana legalization last year, cannabis advocates were cautiously optimistic. That optimism was significantly dampened, however, when a push for legalization earlier this year fell through, despite the fact that the legal cannabis market nationwide is projected to be worth a staggering $28 billion if it was legalized today.
According to a New York Times report, however, there may be reason to suspect that marijuana legalization may soon become a reality in the Empire State after all. Cuomo and pro-cannabis lawmakers are pushing to get a legalization bill through the legislative session before it closes on Wednesday, with Cuomo’s office meeting with state Senate and Assembly members over the past few days.
Previously, marijuana legalization has failed to pass, in part due to a lack of consensus over what to do with the revenue from cannabis sales. While some community leaders have advocated for using a portion of legal marijuana revenue to give back to communities that have been affected by the War on Drugs, such as low-income communities and communities of color, Gov. Cuomo has advocated for maintaining more jurisdiction over where money from marijuana sales should go.
Following the failure of New Jersey’s effort to legalize marijuana earlier this year, as well as a lack of support among many suburban Democrat senators to fight legalization efforts, Cuomo appeared to have admitted defeat, saying during a press conference earlier this month, “I don’t think it’s feasible at this point.”
A revised bill, however, addresses some of Cuomo’s concerns and gives him more control over what to do with marijuana tax revenue, as well as gives counties the option to “opt in” to legalization. And following Illinois’ recent passage of legal marijuana legislation, cannabis advocates are currently punishing for the bill to pass before the legislative session ends Wednesday, according to Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a prominent cannabis advocate and state Assembly spokesperson from Buffalo. “I remain optimistic” about the prospects of passage, she told the Times.