Cuomo predicts budget shortfall will spur marijuana legalization in New York
New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoZeldin says he's in remission after treatment for leukemia Letitia James holding private talks on running for New York governor: report Governors brace for 2022 after year in pandemic spotlight MORE (D) predicts the state's budget shortfall will spur marijuana legalization in the Empire State.
"I think this year it is ripe because the state is going to be desperate for funding. Even with Biden, even with the stimulus, we're still going to need funding," Cuomo said. "I think we're going to get there this year," North Country Public Radio reported.
The governor's statement comes as voters in New Jersey approved a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana Tuesday.
Cuomo first offered his support for marijuana legalization in 2018 after the state Department of Health issued a report in favor of the move, but the measure was squashed due to Republican control in the state Senate.
Despite Democrats gaining control of the state Senate last year, legislatures remained divided on the issue over where taxes from marijuana sales would be allocated in the state.
Some Democrats in New York have advocated for marijuana tax revenues to be directed to communities in the state where criminalization of the substance has strongly impacted residents.
Others say marijuana taxation revenues should be divided into areas such as public education or infrastructure.
Disagreements on tax allocations for marijuana sales tanked the bill last year. The issue was expected to reemerge this year in state budget negotiations in March.
The coronavirus pandemic ultimately stalled talks of marijuana legalization in the state after lawmakers focused more attention on issues like paid sick leave, rolling back bail reform laws, and the legalization of gestational surrogacy.
Advocates of marijuana legalization in New York have been striving for the effort for years, though Cuomo's latest comments indicate the possibility of voting on the measure in the coming months.