Weed all about it! Gov. reportedly revealing plan today to legalize pot statewide

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It’s reefer gladness!

Gov. Cuomo will reportedly announce a plan to legalize the recreational use of marijuana today, during his State of the State address set to begin at 2 pm. If approved by legislators in Albany, the governor’s scheme would make New York the 11th state to allow recreational-weed use in the country.

Cuomo’s plan will likely include 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, according to a report by the Rochester–based Democrat and Chronicle.

It will also feature a competitive tax on the drug, the Democrat and Chronicle reported, whose purpose is to stop people from buying it on the black market, which will be effectively decriminalized by any legalization. Still, pot sold on the black market will likely remain cheaper than that sold legally.

Last month, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez — who has largely decriminalized 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.

And some drug-policy advocates say that any legalization plan should use money raised by taxes on the new industry to repay the damage caused to victims of past, stricter weed laws, who are often among low-income communities of color.

“The governor’s proposal must be as comprehensive as the damage that has been done throughout the state — it must ensure equity and diversity, while reinvesting in the communities that were the hardest hit by marijuana criminalization,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Cuomo’s rumored legalization announcement would come on the heels of his administration’s study of ways to legislate marijuana use, an exploration he called for following his gubernatorial race against pro-legalization “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon last year.

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