A new poll found a large majority of residents in New York want marijuana legalized to help make up for an impending budget shortfall.
Nevada and California’s recreational marijuana programs have been dominating the industry news. But it looks like New York residents want in on the action as well.
A new poll conducted by the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance found that 62 percent of New Yorkers want legalized marijuana for those 21 and over. Only 28 percent polled disagreed with the idea.
It looks like New York residents have money on their mind. About 60 percent of those in favor cited state budget shortfalls as one of their primary reasons for favoring legalization.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office estimates that New York will face a deficit of $4.4 billion for the 2018-2019 which begins on April 1.
“This should be a wake-up call to lawmakers: New Yorkers want their state to take a sensible, humane approach to marijuana policy,” said Landon Dais, political director of MPP of New York according to the New York Daily News.
Legalizing recreational marijuana use could help generate new taxes and save on police resources used to prosecute low legal marijuana. Lower incarceration rates could also save taxpayers and avoid creating criminal records for non-violent offenses.
“New York should stop wasting resources punishing otherwise law-abiding residents for using a substance that is safer than alcohol,” Dais said.
New York’s neighboring state, New Jersey, could be on the verge of legalizing marijuana. Governor-Elect, Phil Murphy, is a proponent of legalizing marijuana to help usher in new criminal justice reform efforts and the state legislature is already looking into the idea.
Currently, New York allows for medical use of marijuana but its list of qualifying conditions is strict and many potential patients are unable to qualify.
Gov. Cuomo has a checkered history when it comes to marijuana policy. He eventually gave into public and political demands and approved the state’s medical marijuana program.
However, while running for governor in 2010 he voiced strong, perhaps even what would be considered extremist views by today’s standards on medical marijuana.
“The dangers of medical marijuana outweigh the benefits,” then-candidate Andrew Cuomo said on the campaign trail.
“A lot of things could raise revenues. Legalizing prostitution could raise revenues. I’m against that, too.”
But one thing Gov. Cuomo seems to appreciate more than being true to his convictions is to continue serving as governor. With such strong support for legalization from residents, will Cuomo change his mind?