After Announcing the Effort was Dead Until 2020 NY Lawmakers Renew Push to Pass Legal Weed This Week
For the better part of the past two years, lawmakers in New Jersey and New York have been tripping over each other in their race to beat one another into the esteemed coalition of the first ten states in the U.S. to legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis.
Stalled in their haste, both states announced in recent weeks that their once-fast-tracked cannabis plans had gone up in smoke and that neither of them would join the ranks of legal weed any time before the spring of 2020. The news sent regional cannabis advocates into an understandable rage against the political machine.
In the meantime, they’ve watched nearby Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont drop the stigma, embrace the plant, and get on the right side of history, and Illinois lawmakers went that same route just last week making them the 11th state in the nation to legalize (ie. tax & regulate) adult use cannabis.
Particularly fired up are New York voters who witnessed cannabis become a major campaign plank in 2018 when incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo had to make a lot of awkward weed-friendly promises to fend off a cannabis-fueled attack on his political Left flank from former Sex and the City starlet Cynthia Nixon who almost unseated the nepotism-bolstered Gov.
He won. So far, New Yorkers have lost.
Though it is certainly not the governor’s job to craft the laws, the buck ultimately stops with him and his final signature, so his support (or lack of) was absolutely a driving force in the effort to get weed legal in the Empire State in 2019. As talks and negotiations began to break down, and everyone involved looked up the ladder for some leadership, Gov. Cuomo basically wiped his hands of the entire issue and told lawmakers to make laws and leave him out of it.
With so many unanswered questions in place - what will the tax structure be, where will those revenues be spent, what about social equity, what about criminal justice reform and expungement of past cannabis charges, what about social consumption, or employment protection, or the fundamental right to grow your own at home? – it was disappointing but not exactly shocking when it appeared that the proposed patchwork of potential legislation was given somewhere between slim and no chances for success this calendar year.
Lawmakers have until just June 19th (this Wednesday) to get their bill to the governor’s desk for a last minute signature, and that deadlines seemed way too close a couple months ago, yet now lawmakers are insisting that is an eternity.
In the past week alone, members of both political parties in both the Assembly and in the Senate held closed door meetings specifically about cannabis and all reports coming out of those meetings seemed optimistic for cannabis fans.
Then, over the weekend, staffers from the governor’s office met with staff leaders from both chambers of the state government specifically to discuss, negotiate, and allegedly finalize the language that could surface any minute now in an attempt to get New York legal in 2019. Reports teased of a Sunday night release of that potentially game-changing legislation but as of midnight Pacific on Sunday night, we still hadn’t seen any updates.
“It’s now or never. The movement needs your help!”
That was the main gist of an open letter released on Sunday by Troy Smit, the Deputy Director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws’ (NORML) Empire State Chapter. He continued, “Never in my nearly ten-year history with the chapter have I ever been more hopeful about our chances of legalizing the responsible adult use of cannabis in New York. We’re truly on the cusp of great change in New York, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S.1527B/A.1617B).”
Riding that call to action, a rally and press conference were held Sunday on the steps outside of Gov. Cuomo’s office in Midtown Manhattan.
Though the 2019 legislative sesh ends on Wednesday, June 19th, no votes have been scheduled on the topic as of the end of the day on Sunday, June 16th.
Perhaps the biggest signal that New York lawmakers may be growing a backbone after all is the sudden cranking up of the banshee-like screeching from the anti-cannabis hucksters and frauds over at Project SAM – just look at this hyperbolic cage-crapping alert they sent out to their moms and crazy uncles over the weekend:
Operating on a shoestring budget fueled by periodic drool donations, the only time we hear from this ragtag, outcast prohibitionist cosplay group is when they are about to get ostracized from yet another major swath of the nation.
Finally, though, the way that Gov. Cuomo is expertly sitting the fence on this issue is the reason why so many people hate politics and especially professional politicians like him. Licking your finger from time to time to judge which way the political wind is blowing is not leadership and regardless of whether New York gets legal weed in 2019, 2020, or whenever, zero credit should go to Cuomo and voters would do well to remember his petty populism next time he asks for their support.