New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Thursday said the upcoming legislative year is “ripe” for passing adult-use cannabis laws “because the state is desperate for funding,” according to a North Country Public Radio report.
“Even with Biden, even with the stimulus, we’re still going to need funding. I think we’re going to get there this year.” – Cuomo to NCPR
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has not formally won the presidency as of Friday morning.
Cuomo’s comments come just days after New Jersey voters approved a legalization ballot initiative and less than a month after Vermont lawmakers approved legislation to allow a taxed and regulated cannabis marketplace. Cannabis sales in neighboring Massachusetts launched in 2018 along with sales in Canada. The green wall is closing in on the state and paired with the budget shortfalls pressure is on lawmakers and Cuomo to, finally, pass the reforms.
After years of opposition, the Democratic governor changed his tune in 2018 following a Health Department report supporting the move; however, the State Senate was controlled by Republicans who would not back the reforms. Last year, Democrats took control of the chamber, giving them control of both the Senate and House, but lawmakers couldn’t come to agreements on how the funds would be earmarked and the session ended without a deal.
The Legislature appeared poised this year to approve a legalization measure – Cuomo had included it in his executive budget – but that push was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic as lawmakers refocused their efforts on other issues.
The state estimates legal cannabis tax revenues could reach $700 million annually but is projecting $59 billion in revenue shortfalls through 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.