Marijuana Legalization Would Raise Revenue To Fill Budget Hole, New York Governor Says

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The governor of New York on Wednesday again discussed the fiscal benefits of legalizing marijuana as a group of progressive organizations and lawmakers separately included cannabis reform in a package of criminal justice measures they want prioritized. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has been facing some pressure to get a budget together and approved early to fill a $15 billion hole. He said that’s one option, but he’d prefer to wait until next year because passing a budget now could mean significant cuts to education and healthcare, in addition to raising taxes, during a time of economic uncertainty. That said, whenever his administration does work to balance the budget, it will be keeping cannabis reform in mind, he said. “Are there other ways to get revenue? How about marijuana?” Cuomo said. “Marijuana we were supposed to have done for the past two years anyway, and it would raise revenue. So if the legislature wants to do the budget now, we can do that.” While the governor has included legalization in his past two annual budget proposals, the reform has consistently stalled amid disagreements over certain provisions such as the tax structure and where to allocate the resulting revenues. But 2021 seems to be shaping up to be a more productive year for enacting the policy change, especially after voters in neighboring New Jersey approved legalization at the ballot box last month. The top Republican in the New York Assembly said earlier this month that he expects the legislature to legalize cannabis this coming session, for example. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) said last month that she also anticipates that the reform will advance next year, though she noted that lawmakers will still have to decide on how tax revenue from marijuana sales is distributed. Cuomo also said last month that the “pressure will…

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