New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Thursday August 2 that his office has established a working group to draft legislation for recreational cannabis legalization.
The news comes less than two months after the New York Health Department released a report concluding that the pros of legalization outweigh the cons.
In a press release, Governor Cuomo said he had reviewed the Health Commissioner’s report and would implement its suggestions.
“The next steps must be taken thoughtfully and deliberately. As we work to implement the report's recommendations through legislation, we must thoroughly consider all aspects of a regulated marijuana program, including its impact on public health, criminal justice and State revenue, and mitigate any potential risks associated with it,” said Cuomo.
The governor’s working group is made up of government officials and academics who will coordinate with lawmakers to develop a recreational marijuana bill, which the governor’s office expects to be taken up in the state Senate next session.
“I have reviewed the multi-agency report commissioned last January and have discussed its findings with Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker,” Cuomo said. “The next steps must be taken thoughtfully and deliberately.”
Cannabis advocates are happy.
“We are pleased that the Governor has studied the existing evidence and data presented in the Department of Health report and accurately concluded that legalizing marijuana for adult use is the right choice for New York,” said Chris Alexander, policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana prohibition has devastated our communities, saddled hundreds of thousands with criminal records, acted as an easily accessible tool for racially biased policing, and stunted the opportunities for entire generations of mostly New Yorker’s of color.”
Some are calling the governor’s swift action on cannabis legalization the “Cynthia Nixon effect.”
The “Sex and the City” star is running against Cuomo in the upcoming Democratic primary for governor. Nixon is a vocal supporter of cannabis legalization.
It wasn’t long ago that Gov. Cuomo, called marijuana a “gateway drug,”.