New York Should Legalize Recreational Marijuana ‘Once and For All,’ Gov. Cuomo Says

"Let's legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all," he said during a speech outlining his plans for next year

What to Know

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind legalizing recreational marijuana in New York State on Monday
  • "Let's legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all," he said during a speech outlining his plans for next year
  • The governor didn't immediately provide a timeline for legalization or say how those efforts would move forward

Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind legalizing recreational marijuana in New York on Monday, as part of a push for what he described as a "true justice agenda" in the coming year. 

"Let's legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all," he said, adding that he planned to push for the measure within the first 100 days of his third term.

Cuomo didn't immediately provide a timeline for legalization or say how those efforts would move forward. 

Monday remarks marked the first time Cuomo has said outright that the state should legalize recreational pot, having shied away from supporting the measure during his first two terms. 

The governor once referred to pot as a "gateway drug" and said he was "unconvinced on recreational marijuana," but in July conceded that the "situation on marijuana is changing," the New York Times reported

The following month, he appointed a panel to draft legislation to legalize marijuana in the state, saying in a statement that the panel would "thoroughly consider all aspects of a regulated marijuana program, including its impact on public health, criminal justice and state revenue." 

On Monday, Cuomo said the state has had "two criminal justice systems — one for the wealthy and one for everyone else," adding that "that's going to end."

Following Cuomo's announcement, New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman expressed support for the measure. 

"Time is long past due to do the right thing and undo the horrific laws that criminalized marijuana and marijuana users," she said. 

In addition to marijuana legalization, Cuomo's Monday speech promised new gun control measures and a focus on reproductive rights. 

Cuomo said he hoped to make Election Day a holiday for New Yorkers and bring early voting to the state — measures that were called for after an Election Day this past November that saw widespread issues at the polls

He also continued to push for congestion pricing, as part of a plan to raise funds for the ailing subway system. 

"This year we have to take the bull by the horns with the MTA," he said. "Pass a dedicated funding stream so the MTA has the funding it needs."

"Congestion pricing is the only alternative," he added. 

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