New York Governor Andrew Cuomo officially completed his about-face on the subject when he made marijuana legalization part of his plan for accomplishments during the first 100 days of his third term.
Gov. Cuomo announced the measure for marijuana legalization, noting that legalization for adult use will help address a discrepancy in the criminal justice system — where the wealthy live with one system and everyone else lives under another.
Gov. Cuomo’s push for legalization comes at a time when both branches of government for the state are controlled by Democrats. It also is a seemingly direct result of his competition for the governor seat, actress Cynthia Nixon, who was vocal in her support of the move. Cuomo’s shift in perspective may have contributed to his landslide re-election win. Now, the shift in his platform is coming to a head.
Reports have shown that the legalization of marijuana has led to a decrease in opioid overdose deaths and also to less need for opioid prescriptions. These benefits, along with the reduction of strain on the justice system and the unfair treatment of minorities, are all factors Gov. Cuomo has cited recently when discussing his change in perspective. This contrasts his original opinion on the subject, which leaned more towards the potential dangers from marijuana use rather than any notable benefits.
Another as yet unaddressed benefit for NY, which the state officials are well aware of, is the potential for $1.7 billion in revenue from a legalized marijuana industry. This funding could be used for various programs within the state, a number of which are underfunded in their current state. Housing, schools, and food and shelter for the homeless are only a few examples of uses other states have found for marijuana revenue.
Meanwhile, the state of New York has a failing infrastructure for the New York City subway, a project that will need a huge injection of funds to resolve. The revenue from marijuana sales may be a big help to that project, provided the legalization is approved and is handled in a timely manner.
New York would join states like Massachusetts, which has legalized recreational use and opened the doors to two dispensaries for adult use sales on Nov. 20, 2018, making history by hosting the first such retail locations on the East Coast.