Even a cursory look at Andrew Cuomo’s record as New York Governor will reveal that he has been anything but a champion of progressive drug policy. As recently as 2017, Cuomo was still reacting to calls for legalization with anti-marijuana talking points and gateway theory. But the 2018 midterm elections changed the calculus. Facing more progressive challengers, and holding a Health Department report recommending adult-use legalization and full, retroactive decriminalization, Cuomo had to pivot his stance.
So when Democrats took control of Albany in 2019, Gov. Cuomo took action. He called on lawmakers to include a framework for legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis in the 2019 state budget proposal. With a deadline of March 31, Cuomo gave lawmakers just 100 days to draft the bill.