Traditionally, state Governors outline their plans during the State of the State address in January. However, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has opted to deliver his address early (on Monday, December 17). He talked about his priorities for the first 100 days in office. The issues discussed included his views on the legalization of recreational cannabis in the state.
Gov. Cuomo said that adult-use cannabis should be permitted “once and for all”, and he pledged to see this done within a few months from the start of the new Democrat-dominated legislature in January.
In his speech, it was clearly evident that his opinions on marijuana had undergone a major evolution because he was now championing legalization and yet he had previously opposed marijuana, even medical marijuana, as a gate-way substance.
The Governor lamented that it was time to change things and fix the injustices that had been suffered by the African-American community and other minorities during the selective enforcement of the laws against marijuana use.
The speech didn’t give any details about how the recreational use of marijuana will be regulated within the state. However, some information about the likely regulatory framework can be gleaned from a report that was submitted to the Governor by the Department of Health in the state.
The report famously concluded that the benefits of regulating and taxing cannabis outweighed any shortcomings that could be attributed to legalization of adult-use cannabis. This report seems to have tied the hands of the Governor, especially given that his major opponent (Cynthia Nixon) made legalization the center of her campaign.
The Health Department report estimated that legalizing recreational cannabis would add between $248 million and $677 million in tax revenue within the first year of legalization. Additionally, legalization would fix some of the imbalances in the criminal justice system while easing the opioid crisis.
It is not yet clear how the state will spend the millions in taxes expected from the recreational cannabis industry, but several sectors and sections of the community are clamoring for that money.
For example, one suggestion is that the money be directed to fix the crumbling subway system while other activists suggest that the money should go to the black community that bore the brunt of the injustices during the war on drugs.
The state legislators will have their hands full as they debate and decide how these monies will be spent. Already, some assembly members are threatening to withhold their support for the bill in case the tax money isn’t allocated in the way they approve, such as going to the black communities.
Green Hygienics Holdings Inc. (OTCQB: GRYN) and Golden Developing Solutions, Inc. (OTC: DVLP) urge all involved to consider all sides before eventually passing a law that will allow New Yorkers who so wish to consume recreational cannabis in a way that is safe for all.
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