New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has amended a cannabis legalization plan that was unveiled last week in his state budget proposal.
Cuomo’s revised plan includes new efforts related to regulation, taxation and encouraging illicit cannabis suppliers to join a legalized system, according to The Buffalo News.
Last year, Cuomo proposed appointing a single cannabis czar to license adult-use cannabis businesses and oversee the program, but this time around, he has proposed a five-member board to establish the regulatory framework and oversee a new Office of Cannabis Management, The Buffalo News reported. The board members would all be appointed by Cuomo, however.
Cuomo’s proposal also places a deputy director in charge of handling social equity issues and appoints a chief medical officer to handle the state’s medical cannabis program, which many patients have criticized as too cumbersome and costly, according to The Buffalo News.
The proposal has also been amended to include additional ways for the new cannabis office to provide funds to low-income communities, the news outlet reported.
While some lawmakers would like to see the state’s projected cannabis tax revenue flow into drug treatment and prevention programs, law enforcement efforts to crack down on drivers under the influence of cannabis and social equity programs to support communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition, Cuomo has not budged on his proposal to let the money flow into the state’s general fund, The Buffalo News reported. Based on his current proposal, Cuomo will make decisions about spending the proceeds in his annual state budget, according to the news outlet.
“I’m optimistic we can get this done in 2020,” Sen. Liz Krueger, a sponsor of the Senate’s legalization legislation, told The Buffalo News.
However, when Krueger appeared at the Capitol last week, she announced, “We’re not moving forward unless we can get the commitment on how the revenue needs to be spent,” according to the news outlet.
This is the second consecutive year that Cuomo has included adult-use cannabis legalization in his state budget proposal. Last year’s plan was ultimately stripped from the budget and a revised version was reintroduced by lawmakers, but the bill stalled at the end of the session in June.
Cuomo’s office believes adult-use cannabis sales could launch in 18 months, should the legislature and governor agree on a legalization package this year, The Buffalo News reported.