Amidst COVID-19, Legalization may have to wait
Governor Andrew Cuomo was optimistic that NY lawmakers would pass adult-use cannabis legislation this year. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to derail the governor’s plan and delay legalization yet again.
The simplest path to legalization is approving the plan as part of the Governor’s budget proposal. The deadline to vote on the budget is April 1st.
Cuomo had planned a tour of other legalized states to learn about and examine their programs, hopefully, to improve the comprehensive legislation proposed for NY’s program. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full force, it is unlikely the governor will leave the state to travel for such a tour.
Now, with the governor and the rest of the state focused on managing and mitigating the damage of COVID-19, legalization of cannabis has become a much lower priority issue.
If the state fails to approve the plan in the budget next month, any measures aimed at legalizing would need to be passed as standalone bills by the end of the State’s legislative sessions in June. Crystal Peoples-Stokes’ Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) focuses heavily on re-investment in communities harmed by the prohibition of cannabis. The legislation aims to ensure that people who are part of those communities have the opportunity to enter and succeed in what will likely be a very lucrative industry in the State.