As expected, adult-use cannabis legalization will not be included in New York’s budget as the state reels from the coronavirus pandemic. When asked during a press briefing on Tuesday whether the reforms would make the final budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) responded it was “not likely.”
“Too much, too little time,” he said.
Legislative leaders last week said legalization was likely no longer on the table after the governor said the state would only be able to pass a “bare-bones” budget. New York is staring down an estimated $10 million revenue loss after the state issued a stay-at-home order last month to stem the spread of the coronavirus that, effectively, shut down the state’s economy.
State Sen. Liz Krueger (D), the champion of the legalization bill in the Senate, said last week that Cuomo’s staff “essentially took marijuana off the table weeks ago.” Krueger, however, agreed that if legalization “cannot be achieved in the midst of a public health crisis” then policymakers, stakeholders, and citizens are all “better off waiting.”
As of this morning, New York reported 83,889 total coronavirus cases and 1,941 deaths.
The plan to legalize cannabis using the state budget as a vehicle was not a slam dunk for Cuomo anyway prior to the pandemic. The governor and lawmakers reportedly had disagreements over how the revenues would be disbursed and whether or not to even include it in the budget – a sticking point that ultimately doomed legalization during budget negotiations in 2019 when Cuomo had also included the reforms in his executive budget proposal. Last year, the reforms were pulled after legislative leaders protested they should be debated as stand-alone legislation.