Governor signals NY will consider adult-use marijuana legalization soon

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(This story has been updated with comments from Connecticut’s governor.) 

Days after New Jersey voters approved adult-use marijuana, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated that he will push for recreational legalization in the coming months as a way to help offset the state’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

“I think this year it is ripe because the state is going to be desperate for funding,” Cuomo said, according to North Country Public Radio in Canton, New York.

In neighboring Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont signaled he’d support adult-use legalization to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“I think so,” Lamont told Yahoo Finance Live when asked if he would pursue legalization next year.

“Right now, I’m surrounded by states – New Jersey and Massachusetts – where marijuana is already legal. I don’t need a lot of people driving back and forth across the border,” Lamont added, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

In terms of New York, experts have said that a recreational marijuana measure would be easier to pass if it’s tucked into the state’s budget bill early next year.

But it’s possible that Cuomo could press state lawmakers to consider a measure before that.

New York also might want to wait until it knows how the next coronavirus relief package will affect the state’s budget, one marijuana industry official observed recently.

But Cuomo said that “even with the stimulus, we’re still going to need funding.”

New Jersey’s legalization of adult-use marijuana puts pressure on neighboring New York and Pennsylvania to follow suit.

“The alternative is New York and Pennsylvania are senselessly donating millions of dollars to the Garden State,” Matt Schweich, deputy director of Marijuana Policy Project, said during an election panel Wednesday as part of Marijuana Business Daily‘s Passholder Days Forum.

Schweich was referring to the fact that New York and Pennsylvania would lose out on marijuana revenue to New Jersey.

New York lawmakers haven’t been able to agree on legalization and will face potential stumbling blocks in terms of taxation and how to ensure that small businesses, women and minorities are included in the industry.

Experts also warn that the state’s highly restrictive medical marijuana program will make it difficult to transition into adult use.