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Will the state of New York legalize marijuana in 2019? Many are calling it a bold and lofty goal, but it now has the support of two of the state’s top political forces. Those forces are feverishly working on plans to push it through.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) rang in the New Year reiterating his plan to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use in the state of New York in 2019. In his inaugural address on New Year’s Day, Governor Cuomo spoke about breaking down social division and creating new economic opportunity.
“Within my first 100 days, I will propose to the new democratic legislature, the most progressive agenda that this state has ever seen, period,” Gov. Cuomo said. That agenda includes the legalization of recreational marijuana. “We will make history and New York will move forward,” Gov. Cuomo added.
The Governor also made a point that the new legislature is governed by Democrats. He told the audience he felt in the past he was working with one arm tied behind his back. With the new landscape, he believes he has a better chance to push through his agenda.
Cuomo’s passionate address talked about the past and how New York led the way in areas like gay rights and minimum wage. Now, he wants to lead the way in many other areas, including legalization. Gov. Cuomo ended his speech with a pledge.
“It is New York’s duty. It is New York’s destiny. It is New York’s legacy to bring the light. To lead the way through the darkness and I pledge to the people of New York, that is what we will do together.”
Governor Cuomo first announced his bold plan in December. He said he will start 2019 in full force with his legalization plan. He has unveiled his agenda for the first 100 days of 2019. In it, are plans to legalize the use of recreational marijuana for those 21 and older.
The plan states, “Governor Cuomo will end the disproportionate criminalization of one race over another by regulating, legalizing and taxing adult use of recreational marijuana.”
“We will advance our justice agenda and particularly address the forms of injustice that have for too long unfairly targeted the African American community and minority communities,” de Blasio said at his 2019 Justice Agenda press conference. “We must also end the needless unjust criminal convictions and debilitating stigma and let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana, once and for all,” Cuomo added.
Cuomo is also taking a bold stance against the federal government, declaring independence from the federal government’s policies. Calling it a “New York Declaration of Independence.”
In his “2019 Justice Agenda,” Cuomo urges lawmakers to act on his a 20-point agenda within the first 100 days of the legislative session. The agenda includes everything from protecting healthcare, combatting gun violence, lowering taxes, LBGTQ rights, affordable housing, and legalizing adult use marijuana.
Watch Governor Cuomo detail his 2019 Justice Agenda and his first 100 days below
De Blasio’s Change of Heart
Just days after Governor Cuomo announced his support for marijuana legalization in the state of New York, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio followed suit and said he too had a change of heart. De Blasio is now backing the legalization of pot. He included more details in his legalization plan. It has recommendations from his task force and more details on how he would like to see the law carried out.
De Blasio also spoke at a press conference in December, with his recommendations for change. “Today I announce my support for the legalization of marijuana,” de Blasio said. “If we just legalize marijuana and don’t deal with underlying issues, we will look back and say what a lost opportunity it was.”
De Blasio announced a plan for small businesses. He doesn’t want large corporations to profit from legal recreational marijuana and wants it to be left for the small minority-owned businesses.
“We have a chance to choke off corporate America in the process,” de Blasio said. “Not let them get their greedy hands on the industry in this state,” he added.
Guided by Safety and Equity
In July, de Blasio commissioned a Task Force on Cannabis Legalization to work on a plan. His task force published a 70-page report called. “A Fair Approach to Marijuana.”
In the report, it asks for legalization guided by safety, health and equity.
When it comes to safety, it describes the importance of making sure the supply is safe, ensuring it won’t end up in the hands of children, and establishing rules for driving under the influence.
Under the area of health, de Blasio wants there to be education guidelines and community education about possible dependency issues. It also addresses the potential for traffic accidents. De Blasio believes pot smoking should be prohibited in public.
And then there is what de Blasio calls a social equity provision. He says there are issues of justice and opportunity that need to be addressed. He says a disproportionate number of people of color have been arrested for possession. The plan calls for expunging convictions for past low-level possession crimes.
The goal is to offer opportunity for people of color, for those who have been impacted by marijuana convictions, and those who live in low-income neighborhoods impacted by marijuana arrests.
Right now, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s plans have just been newly presented. There is a strong push from both parties to legalize on the legislative level. There is no word on how soon a bill can be drafted up and whether it could even be passed within the first 100 days of the legislative session of 2019, but Cuomo and de Blasio are clearly hopeful.
See the Press Conference for Mayor de Blasio’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization Below