New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday announced his support for legalizing recreational marijuana, another sign of his shift toward progressive policy positions in recent months, after facing a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon.
“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana, once and for all,” Cuomo said during a speech in Manhattan outlining his 2019 agenda.
According to the New York Post, Cuomo is also exploring whether people previously arrested for possessing marijuana ― who tend to disproportionately be people of color ― could have their arrests dropped from their criminal records.
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.
Ten states have already legalized recreational marijuana for adults, most recently Michigan, whose voters approved a ballot measure in November’s midterm election.
As former HuffPost reporter Matt Ferner wrote in November, in recent years, many states have shifted their policies on marijuana.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States. And the trend of states bucking prohibition in favor of legal regulation of the plant reflects a broad cultural shift toward greater acceptance of legal marijuana that has continued to grow in recent years. Now, two in three Americans support legalization. More than half of the states in the nation have legalized marijuana in some form. And states like Colorado, the first to establish a regulated adult-use marijuana marketplace, have seen successes that have debunked some lawmakers’ and law enforcers’ predictions that such policies would result in disaster.
This story has been updated with more background information.