Why recreational marijuana legalization won't be in the state budget – City & State

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo squashed New Yorkers’ high hopes for recreational marijuana legalization.

Despite agreeing to prioritize legal pot as recently as last week, the governor said that it probably won’t make it into this year’s state’s budget. “It’s not likely,” Cuomo said. “Too much, too little time.”

The budget was due by the end of the day on Tuesday. But to be fair, Cuomo and the state Legislature have been consumed with fighting the worst coronavirus outbreak in the country for the past month. 

New York’s COVID-19 crisis has shifted the Legislature’s priorities, as the state faces an estimated $10 billion to $15 billion budget gap, in part due to the virus. The outbreak has also had a significant impact on budget negotiations, as most legislators were unable to operate as they normally would.

“I don’t believe we’ll get there (on legalizing pot) because in truth that is something that had to be talked through and worked through, and the Legislature wasn’t here,” Cuomo told WAMC radio host Alan Chartock on Tuesday. “I was doing this COVID virus.”

However, many have been left wondering why recreational marijuana legalization couldn’t be squeezed into the budget this year. So we’ve decided to answer some of the most asked questions about why fitting marijuana into the state budget just wasn’t doable.

So why isn’t pot in the budget? I thought Cuomo said it was still a priority despite the pandemic.

It’s true that the governor said that he would not pass a bare-bones budget even with COVID-19 ravaging the state, committing to including big-ticket items like marijuana legalization. But even before the global pandemic struck, pot was always going to be tough because Cuomo and the state Legislature don’t agree about what to do with the tax revenues from legalized sales. As recently as the middle of March,

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