Olive Lundegaard, 1/27/2020: Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) included a proposal to legalize Adult-use Marijuana in his annual budget proposal for the second year in a row. As a result, New York lawmakers are optimistic that a law to regulate and tax recreational Adult-use Marijuana will be enacted in the coming months. However, lawmakers still disagree about how to distribute the estimated $20 million revenue from taxing marijuana in the coming fiscal year, which Gov. Cuomo’s aides suggest could climb to $141 million annually. Gov. Cuomo first publicly supported Adult-use Marijuana during his 2018 re-election campaign.
Proposed Legalization Bill
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-NY) and state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-NY) are the legislative sponsors of Adult-use Marijuana legalization. Their proposed bill, S1527B, seeks to create the “New York state cannabis fund, the New York state drug treatment public education fund, and the New York state community grants reinvestment fund.” The proposed bill outlines how much revenue will be distributed to those funds, and to drug treatment and traffic-safety programs. The proposed bill also states that half of the revenue generated would be invested into communities that were disproportionately impacted by laws that criminalize the possession and sale of marijuana. Senate Bill S1527B is currently in the Senate Finance Committee; a vote has not been put on the calendar yet.
Lawmakers Disagree about Revenue Allocations
As part of Gov. Cuomo’s 2020 budget proposal, a new Office of Cannabis Management to distribute funds, issue licenses, and approve new products was added. Gov. Cuomo seeks to treat marijuana tax revenue similarly to other tax revenues in the state. This would put any revenues into the State’s general fund where spending decisions would be made annually as part of the budget. While the reinvestment proposed by Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and state Sen. Liz Krueger is important, Gov. Cuomo believes a balance is needed. He plans to appoint members of a board to head the new office. Gov. Cuomo’s proposal contracts Bill S1527B, which specifically allocates marijuana tax revenues to different areas. Sen. Krueger said last week that the bill will not move forward until lawmakers agree on how the revenue will be spent.