New York might become the next state to legalize marijuana, as reports from the state Senate suggest that lawmakers and the governor have finally come to an agreement on DUI laws.
With discussions regarding impaired driving having been settled, it appears that the marijuana legalization bill is set to be formally introduced in the coming ten days.
In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, State Senate leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) said, “I think we are really, really really close on marijuana [legalization], we have gotten past the impasse of the impaired driving”
The language for the legalization bill has not yet been set, but Stewart-Cousins has stated that it will likely include providing tax funds to training police officers in recognizing impaired driving.
Cannabis Concessions from Cuomo
Among the negotiations with Governor Andrew Cuomo, pro-cannabis advocates succeeded in getting two concessions regarding cannabis laws, in cannabis cultivation for personal use and allocating marijuana tax revenue for social equity programs.
Governor Cuomo has included marijuana legalization as a priority in his budget plan. In the past two years, disagreements regarding taxation policy and funding social equity programs have hampered negotiations over cannabis legalization.
Despite having the governor’s approval, however, there are some concerns among pro-legalization advocates and legislators in regards to how legalization will be implemented. Sources suggest that governor Cuomo is pushing to include in the legislation a clause that will allow police to continue stop and search procedures based on cannabis smell, regardless of weed’s legality.
While there is optimism among New York’s pro-cannabis activists, there is a sense of urgency to get this bill passed as quickly as possible. Recently, governor Cuomo has come under scrutiny as several women have come out with sexual harassment allegations against him; furthermore, evidence has surfaced regarding Cuomo’s mishandling of data coming from nursing homes regarding these nursing homes’ COVID-19 death rates.
Lt. Governor Kathy Hotchul (D), Cuomo’s replacement if he gets impeached, has stated that “much of [governor Cuomo’s budgeting plan] is going to be negotiated with the legislature, and all these details can be resolved with their input as well,” suggesting that revisions to the governor’s marijuana legalization plan would be up for negotiation.
Regardless of who is governor of New York, sentiment across the state seems to indicate a growing understanding that recreational marijuana is going to get legalized very soon. Governor Cuomo has pressured lawmakers to legalize marijuana this year to support New York’s economy during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
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