New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to legalize cannabis in the Empire State might finally come to fruition in 2021. Although lawmakers have pushed back on Cuomo’s plans for legalization for the past two years in the major US market, at a recent briefing the governor says he believes 2021 is the year it all changes.

 “This is a year where we need the funding, and a lot of New Yorkers are struggling, and I think this year will give us momentum to get us over the goal line,” Cuomo said at a recent briefing.

“This should have been passed years ago,” Cuomo told reporters. “I think too many people have been imprisoned, incarcerated, punished. It’s exaggerated the injustice of the justice system.”

Photo by: Sora Shimazaki

Although New York decriminalized the personal possession of cannabis in 2019, recreational use is still illegal, unlike Montana, Arizona, North Dakota, and neighbouring New Jersey. 

The past two years saw Cuomo’s efforts stall by the time they reached the legislature, however, with state Democrats obtaining a supermajority after the November elections, they now have the ability to override any veto.

Experts agree that any more delays would be hugely problematic for the legal system. They also say that pressure from the public has notoriously been the catalyst for legalization, and that with the economic aftermath COVID has left behind, New York needs this change now more than ever.

The legalization of cannabis in New York is forecast to bring more than 60,000 jobs and $3.5 billion of revenue, and $300 million in tax revenue. Not only could legalization ease a strained justice system, but it could also boost the economy and help repair the $15 billion debt that COVID has burdened the state with. 

Do you think New York will go through with the move to legalize cannabis in 2021? Let us know in the comments below!

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