NY Gov. Cuomo Releases Report Recommending Statewide Marijuana Legalization

The governor found that the positive impacts of legalizing and regulating marijuana far outweighed any negative aspects.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State of Department of Health last week officially released a long-awaited report investigating the impact of legalizing recreational marijuana statewide. The 75-page report, commissioned by Cuomo in January, recommended statewide legalization, concluding that its benefits would far outweigh any negative consequences.

For the impact assessment, researchers examined the implications of legalization in surrounding jurisdictions. The review assessed the likely public health, criminal justice, public safety, economic, and educational impacts of a regulated marijuana program.

The report observed that legalization would offer tax benefits, provide health benefits to some, and reduce arrests of minority residents who are disproportionately affected by police enforcement.

“We are pleased that the Governor and the State Department of Health have fully studied the existing evidence and accurately concluded that legalizing marijuana for adult use is the right choice for New York,” said Chris Alexander, Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana prohibition has devastated our communities, saddled hundreds of thousands with criminal records, acted as an easily accessible tool for racially biased policing, and stunted the opportunities for entire generations of mostly New Yorker’s of color.”

Cuomo, who had been hesitant in the past to call for legalization, embraced the report’s findings and conclusions.

“The situation on marijuana is changing,” Cuomo told reporters. “Now you have to answer specifics. Who sells it? Where do they sell it? What quantity can you sell? That to me, the devil’s in the details. And to come up with a full program, that’s what we have to answer.”

Legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana would create a estimated $3.5 billion market for the state, according to the assessment. The report recommended that lawmakers impose a tax between 7 and 10 percent and a one-ounce purchase limit.

New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker had revealed that the report would recommend the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana earlier this summer. The report is now available to read in full HERE.

marijuana legalization new york

Growing Momentum

Momentum for marijuana legalization is growing steadily in New York. A recent poll of New York voters showed that 63 percent of New York State voters favor total cannabis legalization, the highest recorded level of support.

The new commissioned report arrives as Cuomo is facing growing pressure for marijuana legalization during his re-election campaign. His Democratic rival, Cynthia Nixon, has centered her campaign on legalization.

“Now that the report has been released and its conclusions presented, we are hopeful that the Governor and the Legislature can fully shift to examining the “how” and move on from the ‘if’,” added Alexander.

“Any movement to legalize marijuana must also include broad record clearing provisions, must create a diverse and inclusive industry, and guarantee significant community reinvestment to repair the harm that has been done. We look forward to engaging with the Governor’s office and the Legislature on the ways to best move New York forward.”

The New York City Comptroller’s office earlier this year projected the state’s market would be worth $3.1 billion, generating an estimated $435.7 million in annual tax revenue for the state.

On the other side of the Hudson River, the new governor of New Jersey has committed to legalize adult use marijuana by the end of the year. State lawmakers have already introduced a legalization bill.

Read Up on Legalization

Nine states so far have legalized recreational marijuana. You can learn more about where adult use marijuana is legal through our education page, and keep up with cannabis laws as they evolve by visiting our news page.