Gov. Cuomo Will Consider Legalizing Recreational Marijuana in NY

shutterstock 437951605
shutterstock 437951605

After years of criticizing marijuana legalization, Governor Cuomo has announced his intention to create a state panel to examine the issue.

Albany, New York- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s view on marijuana legalization seems to have evolved quite a bit. During the days of his first campaign for the governorship, Cuomo was not shy at all about expressing his disdain for legalization.

“The dangers of medical marijuana outweigh the benefits,” Cuomo said of a medical marijuana bill in the New York legislature leading up to the 2010 election. “I don’t think the bill passes.”


Cuomo took the rhetoric even further when responding to a question about medical marijuana legalization increasing revenue for the state.

“A lot of things could raise revenues. Legalizing prostitution could raise revenues. I’m against that, too,” he said.

Despite Cuomo’s political posturing, he signed Assembly Bill 6357 into law in 2014 and legalized medical marijuana in New York state. Unfortunately, the program has been besieged by criticism with many saying it does not serve nearly enough patients.

Cuomo’s anti-marijuana stances have been at odds with his constituents. Polls have shown that close to 90 percent of New York residents support medical marijuana and 62 percent support legalizing recreational use.

But even as recently as last year, Cuomo continued his strong opposition to legalization.

“As of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana,” Cuomo told reporters last year. “It’s a gateway drug and marijuana leads to other drugs, and there is a lot of proof that is true.”

It is unclear as to exactly what “proof” Cuomo was referring to.

But perhaps he has indeed found some evidence supporting marijuana legalization. Or maybe he is finally reading the political tea leaves and realizing out that an anti-marijuana reform platform may not serve the second generation governor’s future aspirations.

On Tuesday, Cuomo has called for the formation of a panel to examine whether or not recreational marijuana should be legalized. While he has not endorsed legalization, he says the panel will collect “facts” and will include input from state police officials.

The timing is interesting considering most states in the Northeast are considering recreational marijuana legalization. Both Vermont and New Hampshire’s legislature are considering legalization bills. New Jersey is also expected to approve recreational marijuana after the election of their new governor. Massachusetts and Maine voters have already approved recreational legalization (though Maine Gov. LePage has vetoed a legalization bill).

Perhaps Gov. Cuomo does not want to see his state lose out on all of the potential tax revenues other states stand to generate. Cuomo previously indicated that he would not legalize medical marijuana or prostitution. With marijuana inching toward legalization in New York, is the governor now considering legal prostitution?