Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid the groundwork Thursday for legalizing marijuana in New York, saying neighboring states already have, or are about to, so “for all intents and purposes it is going to be here anyway.”
The governor’s comments were his strongest to date in favor of legalization and came just a day after Democratic rival Cynthia Nixon charged that current marijuana laws discriminate against minorities.
“The facts have changed,” Cuomo said during a stop in Brooklyn to spotlight new subway equipment.
“You have states that have legalized it now…. It is no longer a question of legal or illegal. It’s legal in Massachusetts. It may be legal in New Jersey. Which means for all intents and purposes it’s going to be here anyway.”
The governor went on to say the question now is “do you not legalize it when it is legal 10 miles from both sides of your border,” assuming the Garden State becomes the ninth in the nation to make recreational pot legally available. It is also legal in Washington, DC.
Nixon put Cuomo on the defensive this week, when she released a campaign video calling for the legalization of pot as a matter of racial justice.
“There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” the actress said in the video.
Cuomo appointed a commission to study the issue earlier this year.
He responded to Nixon by pointing to that commission. “Let’s get the facts and make a decision based on the facts,’” he said on Long Island Wednesday. “We now have states that have legalized marijuana, let’s look at the facts and see what happened there.”
Twenty-four hours later, in Brooklyn, the governor went a lot further.
“The situation has changed dramatically with marijuana,” he said.
Nixon plans to challenge Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.