Marijuana Policy Project

Marijuana Legalization Unlikely to Be Approved by New York Legislators in 2020

Start SMART, Empire State NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance rally for recreational marijuana legalization in New York. (Image via Times-Union)

New Yorkers might have to wait another year until marijuana legalization is passed by the state legislature. Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's efforts to include his Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) in the state budget, it has not happened. The $178 billion budget was approved, minus marijuana, on April 1.

Cuomo commented “not likely” when he was asked at a March 31 press conference about marijuana being included. “Too much, too little time,” he said.

The governor has been one of the leading state officials combatting the coronavius outbreak, which is devastating New York State. As of April 1, there were 83,712 COVID-19 cases and 1,941 deaths in New York. That's 40% of the total cases and deaths in the U.S.

With the focus now almost exclusively on the virus, advocates may have to wait another year until life in the Empire State gets back to whatever will be called normal in the next few months and through the rest of 2020.

Marijuana policy reform still has a chance in New York in the 2020 legislative session. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), sponsored by Sen. Liz Kruger, will be reconsiderd later in the session, which ends in June. The legislators are currently working from their homes and local offices during this period of social distancing.

Both MRTA and CRTA would legalize recreational or adult-use marijuana and establish a commerical market for cannabis businesses like in 10 other states around the nation.

But with the focus now almost exclusively on the virus, advocates may have to wait another year until life in the Empire State gets back to whatever will be called normal in the next few months and through the rest of 2020.

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.