Dank dictum: Gov announces marijauna-legalization plan that he says will raise big bucks for state

Cuom on already!: Gov. Cuomo is violating the U.S. Constitution by refusing to call a special election to select a representative for the 11th Congressional District, which has been vacant since disgraced Rep. Michael Grimm stepped down on Jan. 5, a lawsuit alleges.
File photo by Aaron Short

Call him your high-ness!

Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday announced a plan to legalize — and tax — the recreational use of marijuana, which he said could rake in up to $300 million a year in state revenue once the weed business really gets rolling. And the new industry would promote union labor, while benefitting members of low-income communities that traditionally bear the brunt of current drug laws’ enforcement, according to the pol.

“Lets create an industry that empowers the poor communities that paid the price, and not the rich corporations who come in to make a profit,” said the governor.

Cuomo’s plan also includes terms that permit individual cities and towns to opt out of legalizing pot, and ban anyone younger than 21-years-old from purchasing the herb.

If approved by legislators in Albany, the governor’s sticky-icky scheme would make New York the country’s 11th state to allow recreational-weed use.

Last month, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez — who has largely decriminalized low-level pot possession in Kings County, along with most public-smoking incidents — demanded that any state plan to legalize weed also include provisions for clearing the records of people convicted for past weed-related crimes that will be made legal under the new law.

But the plan Cuomo unveiled during his address will not vacate past convictions if enacted. Instead, it would automatically seal some defendants’ cannabis-related criminal records, including those convicted of criminal pot possession, according to the governor’s spokeswoman Nicole Leblond.

A spokesman for Gonzalez said the district attorney would likely refrain from commenting on the governor’s plan until legalization legislation is introduced in the state legislature.

Cuomo’s move to allow recreational-marijuana use follows a study on the potential new industry that the state Department of Health and other agencies launched last year, amid his gubernatorial race against pro-legalization “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon.

That study found the benefits of a well-regulated pot industry outweigh the negative consequences of continuing to criminalize use of the drug, the governor said in his address.

Cuomo is pushing for his pot plan, which he will include in his 2020 executive budget, to be enacted by April 1, which would allow legal pot vendors to start selling marijuana by the 2024–25 fiscal year, Leblond said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
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