The Hill: Cuomo readying plan to legalize recreational marijuana

By Michael Burke, 12/11/18

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will soon unveil a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, his office announced Tuesday.

“The goal of this administration is to create a model program for regulated adult-use cannabis — and the best way to do that is to ensure our final proposal captures the views of everyday New Yorkers,” Cuomo spokesman Tyrone Stevens told the New York Post.

The aide added that the proposal would come early next year, when Democrats in the state will have control of every branch of New York’s government. 

The Post reported that the plan could be included in Cuomo’s executive budget.

New York state Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Democrat from Manhattan, told the Post that recreational marijuana should be legalized but have limitations similar to tobacco.

“We probably wouldn’t allow smoking cannabis out in public, but might allow it in some establishments,” Gottfried said. “The health questions about smoking cannabis are nothing like problems with tobacco, in part because no one would smoke a comparable quantity.”

Cuomo’s position on marijuana has shifted significantly in recent years. He told reporters in February of last year that he opposed the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, calling it a “gateway drug.”

“It’s a gateway drug, and marijuana leads to other drugs and there’s a lot of proof that that’s true,” he said at the time.

While running for reelection this past August, however, Cuomo created a state panel and tasked it with coming up with a plan to legalize recreational marijuana.

Cuomo’s challenger in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in September, actress and progressive activist Cynthia Nixon, had backed the legalization of the drug.

Nixon said in April it was time for New York to “follow the lead” of other states that had legalized marijuana for recreational use.