New York adult-use marijuana legalization appears stalled

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Recreational cannabis legalization in New York likely will be shelved for now because of the coronavirus crisis, but experts expect the legislation to be back in play later this year.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the state isn’t likely to legalize rec cannabis as part of its budget bill because it’s “too much, too little time,” according to the Democrat & Chronicle of Rochester, New York.

Cuomo and state lawmakers are under pressure to agree on a budget before the fiscal year begins April 1, and efforts to do so have been delayed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

While it might be easier to pass adult-use legalization through the budget process, experts said they believe adult-use marijuana has a good chance as a stand-alone bill later this year.

Jeremy Unruh, director of public and regulatory affairs for Illinois-based PharmaCann, told Marijuana Business Daily on Tuesday that he expects adult-use cannabis legalization to be a priority for New York later this year.

PharmaCann is one of New York’s licensed medical cannabis operators.

Unruh and Rob DiPisa, co-chair of the cannabis law group at Cole Schotz in New Jersey, cited several factors that bode well for legalization this year, including the state’s growing multibilllion-dollar budget deficit and the fact that marijuana is seen as an “essential” business.

New York also is under pressure to act because neighboring New Jersey will vote on adult-use legalization in November.

If New Jersey launches a rec cannabis program first, New York likely would lose out on a lot of revenue.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.

– Jeff Smith