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New York Gov. Proposes State Legalize Recreational Marijuana
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he will push to fully legalize recreational marijuana in the state as part of his agenda for the next year.
"The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else," Cuomo said in a speech about his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term, as quoted by The New York Times.
He said the injustice had "for too long targeted the African-American and minority communities."
"Let's legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all," Cuomo added.
The District of Columbia and 10 states—Alaska, Colorado, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Vermont—have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
As EcoWatch previously mentioned, there's a strong environmental case for a consistent national policy on marijuana:
Growing marijuana has a series of negative environmental impacts that are worsened by black market and semi-legal growing, which make regulations harder to enact and enforce. By making it fully legal, regulations could be enacted governing its cultivation to mitigate these impacts.
Legalizing weed could result in higher standards for its cultivation. For instance, in Boulder, Colorado—first state to decriminalize marijuana—commercial marijuana growers are required offset their electricity use with local renewable energy or pay a 2.16 cent charge per kWh.
In California, which legalized recreational marijuana sales earlier this year, the state was required to create strict environmental measures to regulate pot growers' use of pesticides, water and energy, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Legalizing marijuana in New York could bring in more than $1.7 billion in sales annually, the Times reported.
Monday's announcement is a stark change of tune for the Democratic governor, who said as recently as 2017 that marijuana was a "gateway drug."
Cuomo's opponent in this year's gubernatorial primary, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, called for legalizing pot, arguing that current marijuana laws unfairly target minority users.
Cuomo later told the New York Daily News in April that "the facts have changed on marijuana," noting that as more states legalize marijuana, the Empire State would likely have to follow.
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