By Calvin Hughes
Cannabis legalization has been officially omitted from New York's 2020 state budget, a move that could mean the policy shift is now a little more difficult to execute.
While New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has been pushing to get cannabis legalization on the state's 2020 budget, it appears his attempts have failed. Disagreements on how exactly cannabis legalization should be implemented in the Empire State appears to be the main reason why cannabis revenues won't appear on the upcoming budget. And without having cannabis on the budget, Cuomo admits getting a legalization bill passed could be a little more difficult.
"When it's not done in the budget, then it is, in my opinion, harder to do as a standalone bill because it's now just marijuana with a capital 'M,'" Cuomo said in local radio interview earlier this week.
Cuomo appears to have been referring to a comment made by NY Senator Diane Savino (D), suggesting that Republican lawmakers will be less likely to support a bill that isn't packaged in the budget.
"[We] have a lot of members who represent conservative areas who don't think they can vote for a freestanding bill to legalize marijuana," Savino said.
Despite the setback, Cuomo said he remains confident that legalization can still move forward at a reasonable pace, saying, "I believe we'll get this done this year."
Cuomo has not as of yet announced how he plans to proceed with bringing legal weed to New York, though a spokesperson for the governor said they were prepared for the delay and are working out the details with state legislators.
"The Governor and legislative leaders have expressed concerns for weeks that we may not have sufficient time to finalize an agreed upon bill that comprehensively regulates adult-use recreational cannabis," Cuomo spokesperson Tyrone Stevens told Leafly. "The parties will continue to meet on this issue whether it is addressed within or outside of the budget."
The news of cannabis' exclusion for the state's 2020 budget comes just days before New York's neighbor New Jersey prepares for their own vote on cannabis legalization this coming Monday.