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Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address Proposes Legalized Recreational Use of Marijuana

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of the State address detailed his progressive plan that included legalizing recreational use of marijuana.  The Governor’s proposal was motivated by the swelling popular support for recreational marijuana use and by his estimated $300 million in tax revenues that would eventually be generated.  Now, both New Jersey and New York are seemingly in a sprint to legalize marijuana use and grab the tax revenues.

The Governor did not offer many details of his proposal except that large cities and counties could opt out.  Counties, cities, and municipalities would have to decide where they stand on marijuana use and pass land use and other regulations consistent with their constituents’ positions.  Governor Cuomo’s plan would also require users to be 21 years or older and to purchase marijuana at a store with no personal growing of marijuana.  It would establish licensing programs for marijuana growers, distributors, and retailers, and ban growers from opening retail shops.  It would impose a 20 percent state tax and 2 percent local tax on the sale of marijuana from wholesalers to retailers, plus a per-gram tax on growers.

More details can be found in the Governor’s FY 2020 New York State Executive Budget, which, in addition to the above, establishes an Office of Cannabis Management to promulgate rules overseeing the cannabis industry, to administer licensing and registrations, to regulate the cultivation and processing of cannabis, and to establish a cannabis workers certification program, among other things.

Just a few years ago, Governor Cuomo called marijuana a “gateway drug” but now he fully supports legalization with restrictions relying on a state health study that concluded the benefits of legalization outweigh the risks.

Stay tuned, as we will continue to follow the political and legal events as recreational use of marijuana moves closer to legalization in New York.

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