New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and lawmakers are sparring over cannabis legalization details, including how the revenues would be disbursed and whether to pass the measure via the budget bill, the Buffalo News reports.
Last year, Cuomo had also included legalization in his budget bill but legislative leaders preferred the reforms move through the Legislature and pulled the legalization plan from the budget, ultimately dooming the bill as lawmakers couldn’t agree on how the funds derived from the industry would be spent.
Cuomo projects $300 million from cannabis excise tax revenues and would prefer the money be deposited into the state’s general fund. How those funds are spent would be determined annually as part of the budget, under Cuomo’s plan. Lawmakers, however, prefer earmarking the funds for drug treatment programs, law enforcement, and social equity programs.
Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat and sponsor of the legalization legislation in the Senate, said she is “optimistic” lawmakers and the governor can come up with a deal and, if not, the legislature could get a deal done before the session ends in June; however, she warned that lawmakers would not move forward unless they, “can get the commitment on how the revenue needs to be spent.”
According to the report, the Cuomo administration believes it would take 18 months before any legal cannabis sales would occur in the state. Despite this, his budget estimates the state would receive $20 million in revenues in the coming fiscal year and $63 million in 2022. Officials told the Buffalo News that the projected $20 million would come from licensing fees.
A recent Sienna College poll found 58 percent of New Yorkers support broad legalization.