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by | Dec 17, 2018 | Business, Crime, Current Events, Government, News, Politics | 0 comments

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would push to legalize recreational marijuana next year, a move that could bring in more than $1.7 billion in sales annually and put New York in line with several neighboring states.

The highly anticipated proposal came in a speech Mr. Cuomo gave in Manhattan on Monday, in which he outlined his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term.

“The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else,” Mr. Cuomo said, describing the injustice that he said had “for too long targeted the African-American and minority communities.”

“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” he added.

Ten other states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, spending the new tax revenue on a host of initiatives, including schools and transportation.

Earlier this year, Cuomo commissioned a study to determine whether the state should legalize marijuana and later convened a task force to draft legislation to regulate it.

“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,” spokesman Tyrone Stevens told the New York Post last week, when previewing the proposal.

The state Assembly and state Senate both currently have bills that propose legalizing marijuana. Previous versions stalled under GOP control. A new proposal could move forward under the new Democratic majority.

The idea is expected to win support in Albany, where Democrats captured the State Senate in November for the first time in a decade. Members of the Assembly, which is dominated by New York City Democrats, have supported such a measure as well.

In addition to the tax revenue that marijuana sales would generate, legalizing marijuana could also ease the opioid crisis and mitigate racial disparities in the criminal justice system, the report said.

Already, public officials and policy groups have begun clamoring for different uses of the new revenue. One popular proposal would funnel the money into New York City’s crumbling subway system. Others have said the funds should be invested in the black and Latino communities that have been disproportionately affected by prosecution.

A Quinnipiac University poll in May showed that 63 percent of New Yorkers favored legalizing marijuana.

In the past, Mr. Cuomo has expressed reservations on full legalization, calling marijuana a “gateway drug” last year. But this year he said that the “facts have changed,” nodding to the moves toward legalization in other states.

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