Cuomo calls for legalizing recreational marijuana in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday urged state lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana next year.

"We must also end the needless and unjust criminal convictions and the debilitating criminal stigma, and let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” Cuomo said in a speech laying out his agenda for the first 100 days of his recently won third term.

The New York Times reported that the push is likely to be well received in the state legislature, where Democrats will control both chambers for the first time in years.

If approved, New York would join 10 other states and Washington, D.C., in legalizing marijuana. 

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Cuomo's embrace of legalizing marijuana marks a shift from last year, when he described the substance as a "gateway drug." He has since gradually voiced more openness to its legalization and earlier this year commissioned a panel to study the issue.

In July, the state Department of Health commission issued a report concluding that benefits of taxing and regulating the drug outweighed possible consequences.

Cuomo secured a third term in the governor's mansion in November by defeating Republican Marc Molinaro. He recently ruled out a run for the White House.

The governor dispatched a primary challenge from actress and activist Cynthia Nixon earlier in the year. Nixon had said she supported legalizing marijuana.