New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced this week he is committed to legalizing marijuana by the end of 2020.

Cuomo cited unjust enforcement of laws regarding possession of the drug that disproportionately affected young people of color and financial benefits. The third-term Democratic governor also said he believed New York could collect as much as $300 million in tax revenue should the state legalize marijuana use. This would help New York significantly given its $6 billion budget gap, which the Times reported is projected to balloon to a whopping $28 billion through 2023.


Cuomo’s push is part of a larger campaign to increase environmental spending, help small businesses and tackle a variety of social issues, including a lack of diversity on New York’s farms to the price of female reproduction products (getting rid of the so-called “pink tax”). The governor also called for New York’s state universities to boost research on marijuana and its effects and said he hoped the state would not fail to properly address the issue regarding the drug the way it did with opioids. Cuomo also said in his State of the State address that he wishes to work together with Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to establish and develop a system for making adult use of cannabis legal.

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New York state lawmakers attempted last year to legalize marijuana, but the measure failed to pass due to insufficient votes before the session ended. The measure also failed in New Jersey, whose legislature voted to leave the matter up to voters to decide in 2020 via a referendum. Several states have thus far legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational use, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Michigan, Washington and the District of Columbia. Illinois became the latest state to join this list on Jan. 1. Canada also legalized marijuana for recreational use in October 2018. The topic surrounding marijuana legalization is likely to continue being discusses ahead of the 2020 elections, as several presidential candidates have said they would be in favor of decriminalizing the drug and even expunging the records of those convicted for possession of marijuana.


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