Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo addressed New York on Tuesday in his State of the State Address to announce his plans for 2019, including a surprisingly vehement push for the recreation legalization of cannabis. He hopes that the move could generate more than $1.7 billion in sales annually, significantly boosting the economy in New York, especially in economically deprived areas of the state.
The proposal came in a speech in Manhattan on Tuesday, along with a slew of other proposals that were all part of Cuomo's agenda for the first hundred days of his third term. The previously centrist governor is not just changing his stance on cannabis with this push, but he is also working to garner more attention to liberal policies that have been gaining momentum on the national scale.
" The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else," said Cuomo prior to broaching the topic of cannabis. The governor seems to be no longer hiding behind a neutral position, raising questions as to what the governor's presidential ambitions could be in the future. By raising concerns over national topics in his speech, Cuomo was able to stir up sentiment on a broad scale, which could turn the tide in his favor when the policies go up for a vote.
Marijuana legalization has come a long way in the past few years, with ten states and Washington, D.C. already sporting recreational legalization and 33 others that have legalized on a medicinal level. Cuomo has set his sites on making New York the 11th state to join the ranks of recreational cannabis, giving the industry yet another glimmer of hope for the long haul.
New York may be the fourth most populous state, but the affects that the state can have on the economy is mind-boggling. "New York represents the most influential market for consumers," said Smoke Wallin, president of California-based cannabis company, Vertical Cos. According to Wallin, the implementation of recreation cannabis in New York could add hefty pressure to the way the scales tip on a national level.
In 2017, the state of New York had a recorded gross state product of $1.607 trillion, ranking it third behind the larger states of California and Texas. New York corners a big chunk of the national market, and has a distinct affect on the way industries flourish or plummet. With this economic positioning, legalizing recreational cannabis and creating a taxable, legal industry in the state is set to create a massive surge in revenue that can then be used to help bolster programs that have previously been lacking in funding and attention.
Outside of the massive surge in revenue from prospective sales through cannabis, Cuomo also expects legalization to result in the generation of roughly $300 million in annual tax revenue. According to the governor, these funds will be allocated to finance a traffic-safety committee, for small business development, and for substance-abuse services and programs.
Unfortunately, as long as cannabis remains a schedule I drug at the federal level, there will still be a fair amount of trials and tribulations associated with the industry, especially when it comes to banking and in the capital market. But, with this newfound push by Cuomo and the continued support by the people, the cannabis industry has the chance to flourish into something great that could help change this country for the better. Only time will tell, but there is hope for a bright future where legal cannabis can be consumed and distributed without worrying about the outdated legal status of the plant.