Gov says it’s still possible for New York to legalize adult-use marijuana by April

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he remains confident the Legislature can vote to legalize recreational cannabis as part of the state budget, which is due April 1.

The optimistic comments came after Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, questioned whether lawmakers would have enough time to resolve thorny questions surrounding legalization while also working their way through a $175 billion budget.

While both the Democratic governor and Heastie support legalization, there’s not yet agreement on the details, such as rules about how the product should be sold and regulated as well as tax rates.

Cuomo’s plan, as outlined in his budget-briefing book, is to:

  • Issue separate grower, distributor and retail store licenses.
  • Prohibit cultivators from operating retail stores.
  • Institute three taxes.

Cuomo said that while getting a good bill passed is more important than the timing of the vote, he’s not giving up hope of adding New York to the list of states that have legalized adult-use marijuana.

A number of Northeast states are considering legalizing rec MJ.

“We’ll work very hard to get it done,” Cuomo said during an interview with WCNY radio. “In this business, six weeks is a lot of time. If we can’t do it right, then we’ll do it later.”

Attaching complicated proposals to the state budget – even if they aren’t strictly an issue of state finances – is one way Cuomo has used to get leverage over the Legislature.

Removing the issue from the budget could complicate the negotiations over legalization and potentially delay passage.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily