• Sarah Gersten

Cuomo Renews his Pledge to Legalize in 2020

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to fully legalize marijuana in New York during his State Address in Albany last night, echoing similar statements made by the governor last year, before the legalization push fell apart over conflicts surrounding where revenues from the legal industry should be directed.

In his address, Cuomo framed legalization as a criminal justice reform measure noting:

“For decades, communities of color were disproportionately affected by the unequal enforcement of marijuana laws.”

In the announcement Cuomo also touted New York’s recent decriminalization measure, which downgraded certain possession offenses from a misdemeanor to a civil fine, and created a process to expunge low level marijuana offenses, providing relief for an estimated 160,000 individuals in the state.

Along with prioritizing equity and criminal justice reform, Cuomo's plan involves taking a regional approach to legalization, with the intention of coordinating regulations with neighboring states. If Cuomo is able to find consensus over the social equity and restorative justice aspects of his plan, such a strategy may present an opportunity for a progressive path to legalization in much of the Northeast as an increasing number of states in the region push for adult-use legislation in 2020.


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