With a legislative deal reportedly in place, New York is poised to become the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana use.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday afternoon that leaders in the New York state assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have struck a deal that “would impose special pot taxes and prepare to license dispensaries.” Liz Krueger, chair of the state Senate Finance Committee, told Bloomberg that it was her understanding “that the three-way agreement has been reached and that bill drafting is in the process of finishing a bill that we all have said we support.”
Signs were pointing toward a deal last week, with Cuomo telling reporters that all sides were “very close.” And on Tuesday, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said that legislators and Cuomo had overcome a major sticking point concerning how to codify traffic safety rules.
“I think we are really, really, really close on marijuana,” Stewart-Cousins said at the time.
For Cuomo, legalization was identified as a budget priority this year.
“Despite the many challenges New York has faced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also created a number of opportunities to correct long standing wrongs and build New York back better than ever before,” Cuomo said in a statement in January, announcing his intention to push toward legalization. “Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”
Will This Be The Final Push?
This year’s push toward legalization came after two failed bids in 2020 and 2019. Now, the stage is set for New York and Cuomo to finally follow through on that vision. According to Bloomberg, the deal that was struck “calls for a 13% sales tax, 9% of which would go to the state and 4% to the localities,” while distributors would collect an additional “excise tax of as much as 3 cents per milligram of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, with a sliding scale based on the type of product and its potency.”
Cuomo appeared especially motivated to get legalization over the line this year. He may have been spurred to action by New York’s neighbors, with voters in New Jersey passing a measure to legalize marijuana last year and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announcing his plan to do the same in his state earlier this year.
And for the embattled Cuomo, the spectre of political scandal may have also spurred him to embrace a popular policy. Analysts at BTIG earlier this month argued that Cuomo is “more motivated now to pass a highly popular piece of legislation that could have the added benefit of shifting public attention” away from the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct that have prompted a number of prominent Democrats to call for him to step down.
“Given the personal issues Governor Cuomo is facing, there had been concerns that cannabis reform would be delayed again, but we are encouraged to see all parties remain at the negotiating table with movement toward a resolution,” the analyst note said.