ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting legal marijuana back on the agenda for 2020.
Cuomo is pushing lawmakers to include legalizing recreational pot in the budget and to fund a marijuana research center as part of SUNY.
Under the Governor’s recent executive budget proposal, enacting the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act would generate an estimated $20 million in revenue for the state in licensing fees in fiscal year 2021 and $63 million in fiscal year 2022.
“I believe it is best done in the budget,” Cuomo said. “I said that last year. I believe the budget is the opportunity, frankly, to make some tough decisions and work through tough issues.”
Meanwhile, this year, Sen. Liz Krueger has amended her Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act bill. It includes more money for law enforcement to train officers to recognize DUI. It also provides more funds for school districts to address “risky behavior” like vaping.
Sen. Pete Harckham, who chairs the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, is throwing his support behind Krueger’s bill.
“The big component is 25 percent of the revenue targeted towards substance use disorder treatment, prevention, education,” he said. “And that’s the big difference between the Krueger bill and the Governor’s bill.”
Opponents of the legalization effort have noted the lack of a standardized test for impairment and fears that it could create a new “predatory for profit industry” in the state.
Sen. Harckham says, if legalization passes, it will still take a while for the revenue to build up.
“It’s going to take many, many years to ramp up because the first stage is the licensees,” he explained. “Then you have to have the growers, and you have to build out the supply network.”
Krueger’s bill has not been conferenced, yet.