Legalization of adult use of marijuana in New York state is serious business, for health and economic reasons. To prevent as many problems as possible, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will embark on what some wags are calling “the cannabis tour” of states where marijuana is already legalized. It is a wise strategy and, we believe, a necessary one.
Cuomo will travel to three states that allow recreational marijuana use in the coming weeks ahead of his push to pass legalization as part of the proposed 2020-21 state budget. Eleven states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana use in the last decade.
Cuomo plans to visit Massachusetts, Illinois and California, or Colorado, to learn more about their programs before New York’s April 1 budget deadline. Recreational marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts in 2017. Illinois passed its Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act last year.
Much can learned from the simple strategy of discovering how something is done by someone else. When it comes to a game-changing resolution to make marijuana legal — to take New York state into uncharted territory — it’s imperative to do research. And the best research is seeing the practical applications of others.
Cuomo included a 200-page bill in his $178.6 billion budget proposal to legalize the use of marijuana for adults 21 and older. The bill addresses the all-important economics initiatives to direct funds to communities of color and provide them with steady footing to enter the new industry as entrepreneurs — specifics that were excluded from last year’s version.
The governor plans to speak to officials in other states about the challenges they faced with legalizing marijuana, including local law enforcement.
It’s refreshing to see New York’s top state official conducting personal research into this important legislation. Legalization of marijuana in other states including Massachusetts ran into some trouble along the way, so doing this the intelligent way also means the right way.
Legalization will have big social, economic and health implications. As a result, New Yorkers deserve a close-up study of the problems that arose, the solutions to those problems, what was amended and how it was done, how law enforcement was integrated into the process and what blueprint was drawn for the fair distribution of revenue.