Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would push to legalize recreational marijuana next year, a move that could generate more than $1.7 billion in sales annually and put New York in line with several neighboring states. The highly anticipated proposal came in a speech in Manhattan on Monday, in which the governor outlined his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term. Mr. Cuomo framed the speech as a reflection on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt — the former president who was once a New York governor himself — would do today, mixing sweeping rhetoric about American ideals with grim warnings about the Trump administration.
The speech, which seemed delivered with a national audience in mind, could prolong slow-burning speculation about Mr. Cuomo's presidential ambitions. It also showed, in striking detail, the governor's leftward evolution in his eight years in office, from a business-friendly centrist who considered marijuana a "gateway drug," to a self-described progressive championing recreational marijuana, taxes on the rich and a ban on corporate political donations.
"The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else," Mr. Cuomo said before introducing the cannabis proposal, describing the injustice that had "for too long targeted the African-American and minority communities. "Let's legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all," he added.
Ten other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, spending the new tax revenue on a range of initiatives, including schools and transportation.
Cuomo's Monday message was his strongest public endorsement of recreational marijuana to date. It marks a substantial shift from his prior opposition, as recently as last year when he called it a "gateway drug." [washingtonpost.com] The change in policy stance also follows a bitter battle for the Democratic gubernatorial primary against Cynthia Nixon, who supported legalization.
In 2018, Vermont [wikipedia.org] became the first (and so far, only) U.S. state to legalize recreational use of cannabis by an act of the legislature, following a vetoed attempt [soylentnews.org] in 2017. Lawmakers in New Jersey [politico.com] and Illinois [chicagotribune.com] may follow suit, although opposition remains.
Also at CBS [cbsnews.com].