New York is considering recreational cannabis legalization

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New York’s governor is urging state lawmakers to provide funding to establish a commission that would study the feasibility of legalizing adult-use marijuana in the state.

The study would explore recreational legalization’s health effects, economic impact, criminal justice impact and how recreational legalization by some of New York’s neighbors would affect the state, according to Buffalo TV station WKBW.

The announcement – which Gov. Andrew Cuomo made during his annual budget address to lawmakers – comes as three of New York’s neighbors move closer to having full-fledged recreational marijuana markets:
  • Massachusetts voters passed a recreational marijuana law in 2016, and the market is supposed to launch later this year.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wants his state to pass adult-use cannabis, and lawmakers are poised to pass a bill soon.
  • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is expected to sign a rec MJ bill that the legislature passed earlier this month.

Those states’ momentum toward recreational marijuana helped fuel New York’s desire to conduct a study on adult use, budget director Robert Mujica told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

The study would be undertaken by the New York health department and other state agencies, according to news reports.

New York already has a medical cannabis program, but it’s considered one of the most restrictive in the nation.

The Democrat & Chronicle noted that Cuomo insisted on “many of the restrictions” on the MMJ program and that the governor has been hesitant to ease the state’s adult-use laws.