Will New York’s Recreational Marijuana Measure Pass This Session?

According to Governor Cuomo, it could go either way.


In a last minute effort to pass new laws before the legislative session ends tomorrow, lawmakers in New York revisited talks about legalization over the weekend. However, despite this renewed attention, talks have reportedly stalled, making it harder for anything to happen this session.

Hashing Details Out

This weekend’s renewed discussions were the latest chapter in what has been an up and down year for legalization in New York.

Earlier this year, Gov. Cuomo—who in the past was opposed to legal weed—voiced his support for legalizing marijuana. Yet despite his support, talks about legalization quickly began to fizzle out.

Interestingly, it wasn’t only opposition from anti-legalization groups that derailed talks. In fact, progressive lawmakers and pro-legalization advocates leveled some of the biggest critiques of early legalization bills.

Specifically, many raised concerns that these early bills did not adequately account for racial equity.

As a result, many of the state’s most progressive lawmakers said they would only support legalization that included provisions focused specifically on ensuring racial equity.

“They thought we were going to trust that at the end of the day, these communities would be invested in,” Crystal Peoples-Stokes, New York’s first Black woman Assembly majority leader, said earlier this year. “But that’s not something I want to trust. If it’s not required in the statute, then it won’t happen.”

Now, the revised legalization bill includes changes aimed at addressing racial equity and a number of other issues. So far, talks over the weekend have not materialized into actual legislation. But there is still a possibility something could happen before tomorrow’s deadline.

New Decriminalization Bill Not Supported

Over the past few days, as Cuomo met with lawmakers, activists throughout the state rallied in support of far-reaching and progressive legalization.

For example, the New York chapter of NORML and several other advocacy groups urged New Yorkers to call their representatives.

In particular, progressive advocacy groups remained focused on pushing for a legalization bill that includes the following:

  • Expunging past weed-related criminal records.
  • Addressing the harm caused by the war on drugs.
  • Ensuring that marijuana tax revenues are reinvested into communities most harmed by the war on drugs.
  • Prioritizing business licenses for communities mot harmed by the war on drugs.

Last Minute Talks Fall Apart

Despite the weekend’s renewed focus on legalization, it now appears that nothing will materialize this session. As reported by local news station CBS New York, sources in the Senate and Assembly said that this newest round of discussions have stalled out.

As per that report, lawmakers said there were still too many disagreements on key aspects of the bill.

In particular, these disagreements reportedly centered on details regarding how the $300 million estimated to come from marijuana taxes would be spent. Additionally, there was reportedly disagreement on whether or not localities would be allowed to opt in or out of legalization.

But despite all this, Gov. Cuomo said there is still an outside chance something might materialize.

“I don’t know,” he said earlier today. “Different people say different things on the number of members who are ready to support it. I don’t know. That is still a question mark.”

" Nick Lindsey : Nick is a Green Rush Daily writer reporting on all things cannabis. He currently lives in New York City.."