Although New York was expected to become one of the next states to legalize marijuana for recreational use, there have been some snags that could prevent this from happening in 2019. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been pushing to make legal weed part of the state budget, says he is “no longer confident” that is going to transpire before the April 1 deadline. If it doesn’t, retail pot sales will likely be set back another year.
It was during a recent press conference that Cuomo broke the bad news. The Democrat said that while his team made a valiant effort to include marijuana legalization in the state budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the issue is just too complicated for legislative forces to come to an agreement on how it should all shake out.
“I am no longer confident marijuana will be done by the budget,” he told reporters. “There is a wide divide on marijuana. I believe ultimately we can get there. I believe we must get there. I don’t believe we get there in two weeks.”
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that marijuana legalization is no-go this year. Lawmakers still have an opportunity to pass a bill in the coming months – ideally before they break for the summer. There is some concern, however, that putting the legalization issue in the hands of the House and Senate will only serve to prolong the matter. No doubt making the issue part of the budget would be much easier. There is also no guarantee that the legislature will come to any sort of an agreement.
Governor Cuomo, who up until last year opposed the idea of marijuana legalization, has been fighting to make legal weed happen for several months. But how to establish a taxed and regulated market in a manner which serves all of its masters has not been an easy task.
Although the governor is eager to get marijuana legalization on the state budget, lawmakers have not expressed much interest in putting a rush on the deal. Black lawmakers are now even threatening to oppose the idea entirely as long as minorities are not guaranteed a substantial slice of the estimated $3 million industry.
Cuomo has said that minorities and women will be part of the plan, yet lawmakers are not confident it will be done right.
“I haven’t seen anyone do it correctly,” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo said, according to the New York Times. “They thought we were going to trust that at the end of the day, these communities would be invested in. But that’s not something I want to trust. If it’s not required in the statute, then it won’t happen.”
At this juncture, it seems that marijuana legalization in New York is down for the count. Whether or not the powers that be will find a way to salvage the issue and see it through in 2019, well, that remains to be seen. It certainly doesn’t look good.