High time or no time: Marijuana legalization faces make-or-break moment in New York

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It’s now or never for legalizing recreational marijuana use in New York state, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

With New York staring at a massive budget hole blown open by the COVID-19 pandemic, legalizing marijuana could light up economic activity the Empire State to the tune of $3.5 billion, with 60,000 new jobs created and a new annual tax revenue stream of $350 million once fully implemented, according to the Governor’s office.

Hoping to get a joint deal with the legislature done in time for the April 1 budget deadline, Cuomo announced Monday several amendments to his budget bill geared toward legalizing pot in New York. The amendments, he said, reflect conversations the Governor’s office has had with state legislators about cannabis legalization — a years-long debate that’s often been stymied in Albany due to political differences.

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