By Emily Ledger
According to New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, the State could finally see Cannabis legalisation in 2020. The Democrat Governor announced his plans to push for legalisation in his annual ‘State of the State’ address.
Governor Cuomo pledged this month to legalise adult-use recreational Cannabis for the second year in a row. He expressed his hopes that New York would become the 12th State in the US to take the step on policy reform to legalise Cannabis.
Furthermore, the plan features as a key priority in his agenda for 2020. Cuomo claimed that tax revenues on a regulated Cannabis market could raise up to $300 million for the State, in addition to addressing long-standing injustices in the authorities enforcement of drug prohibition.
Governor Andrew Cuomo stated:
“For decades, communities of colour were disproportionately affected by the unequal enforcement of marijuana laws. Last year we righted that injustice when we decriminalised possession”.
The State made the move to decriminalise possession and use of Cannabis, in 2019. This ruled out prison sentences and criminal records being given to individuals caught in possession of fewer than 2 ounces of Cannabis. In addition, most past convictions for marijuana possession of up to 25 grams were automatically expunged.
Lawmakers in New York are expected to work with their contemporaries in neighboring States to create a coordinated system. This system will aim to prevent the smuggling of Cannabis products from a state where they are legal, to a state where they are not. Under this plan, the States of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania will have very closely related Cannabis policies.
Attempts to legalise Cannabis in the Democrat-controlled legislatures of both New York and New Jersey failed, last year. This was despite apparent widespread support for the policy. However, both States join the list of jurisdictions that are expected to announce Cannabis legalisation in 2020. They would join Illinois, who waved in the New Year with the launch of their legal Cannabis market.
At last week’s budget proposal, Governor Cuomo announced more details of a legal regulated adult-use Cannabis market in the State of New York. The proposal includes the development of an Office for Cannabis Management (OCM) which would oversee the new Cannabis market. It would also oversee medical Cannabis and hemp programmes.
Regulations and taxes have also been highlighted in the most recent proposal. These proposed regulations and taxes relate to the production, distribution, transportation, and sale of Cannabis products in the state.
In his State address, Governor Cuomo said:
“Legalise adult use cannabis. I believe it is best done in the budget – I said that last year. I believe the budget is the opportunity, frankly, to make some tough decisions and work through tough issues.”
The proposals also make concessions for the expansion of the current medical Cannabis programme. This would include reforms to improve patient access and affordability, as well as encouraging increased research within medical Cannabis providers.
The OCM would also introduce a comprehensive regulatory framework, and centralise licensing, enforcement and economic functions. Governor Cuomo has also proposed a first of its kind ‘Global Cannabis and Hemp Centre for Science, Research and Education, in partnership with the State University of New York and other experts.