Cuomo calls for legalizing, taxing marijuana in budget plan

Cuomo calls for legalizing, taxing marijuana in budget plan
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New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoOvernight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus Cuomo: New York City on track to start reopening week of June 8 MORE (D), in a budget outline released Tuesday, proposed legalizing and taxing marijuana.

The move shows he plans to make good on a promise he made just two weeks earlier at the annual State of the State address, where he pledged to legalize marijuana in 2020. 

In the plan released Tuesday, Cuomo said he wants to create a new Office of Cannabis Management to oversee “medical, adult-use and hemp programs.” Under Cuomo’s proposal, adults over 21 will be able to legally purchase marijuana at retailers licensed by that office, and the state will establish a Global Cannabis and Hemp Center for Science, Research and Education within the State University of New York system.

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One of the biggest criticisms of marijuana legalization in other states is the racial disparity between the entrepreneurs who profit off the new business venture and the communities who have been historically affected by marijuana laws. 

“The proposal will also correct past harms to individuals and communities that have disproportionately been impacted by prohibition,” the plan reads. 

In January 2018, Cuomo directed the Department of Health to conduct an impact study to review the potential impact of regulated marijuana in New York. According to the executive budget, the report issued in July 2018 concluded that the positive impacts of a regulated cannabis program in New York state outweighed the potential negative aspects. 

The governor reportedly said at the State of the State that legalized marijuana could bring in $300 million annually in tax revenue, and billions more in economic activity once a program is fully implemented. However, that could take years to come to fruition. 

Eleven states have legalized marijuana use, including the East Coast states of Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts. In the plan Cuomo said New York will work in coordination with the neighboring states of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. 

Legalizing marijuana had been a campaign promise and priority for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) last year. The push to do so failed in the New Jersey state legislature in 2019.

The New York budget plan also proposes a $33 billion, five-year plan to combat climate change and a $250 billion increase in infrastructure funding.