New Yorkers love to joke about its little brother New Jersey, ribbing any and all of that state’s shortcomings, but the pair are two peas on a pod when it comes to marijuana reform. Just as New Jersey did before, New York poised itself as the next state to legalize recreational marijuana but lacks enough support from lawmakers to do so.
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo confessed this week that he doesn’t have the votes in the State Senate to push legalization forward. Cuomo previously had promised adult-use marijuana legislation for New Yorkers in 2019, but as the state’s legislative session comes to end, the governor says it probably won’t happen this year.
“I don’t think it’s feasible at this point. I don’t think it matters how much I push in 11 days. I think when the Senate says we don’t have the votes, I take them at the word,” Cuomo said.
Forecasts had predicted 2019 as the best year for cannabis form, in part because New York and New Jersey were supposedly locks to legalize recreational marijuana. Cuomo, as well as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, had campaigned on pushing through marijuana legalization in the state. But doing so without the impetus of voter initiatives have proven meddlesome to New Jersey and New York.
“It’s hard to do it legislatively, I admit,” Murphy said.
But it’s difficult to absolve either Murphy or Cuomo in light of Illinois’ recent actions to do what those states could not—legalize possession and the commercial sale of cannabis through the legislature. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker campaigned on similar marijuana legalization promises as Cuomo and Murphy, except he got the job done. So as Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize adult-use marijuana, New Yorkers—and Jersey folk—will have to wait a little longer.