New York’s First Female Governor and Her Stance on Cannabis

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When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, D, announced his resignation on August 10, people looked to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, D. She will take over on August 24 when Governor Cuomo steps down, making her New York State’s first female governor. Lt. Governor Hochul has supported cannabis legalization for a long time. Back in January, before New York legalized recreational cannabis, Lt. Governor Hochul was pushing for reform. 

“We’ve had an unjust system for so long, so we’re really excited about getting this passed as part of the budget,” Lt. Governor Hochul explained shortly after Governor Cuomo announced legalizing cannabis through the state’s budget. “Once we do, we’ll join the other states that are finally enlightened enough to realize that this should be legalized,” she added. 

“We need the money. People who were reluctant before didn’t join us in promoting this. Now, all of a sudden, you’re saying, ‘Well, I guess because of COVID, with a $15 billion budget deficit, we need to find money anywhere we can.’ Anticipating bringing in about $300 million will help our budget somewhat — not enough — but it’ll be a start,” Lt. Governor Hochul concluded.

Response

Activists across the state are excited to see Lt. Governor Hochul take over and see Governor Cuomo step down. Biz Berthy, a drug policy organizer with VOCAL-NY, spoke about her excitement at seeing Lt. Governor Hochul become New York Governor. “All of us (VOCAL-NY) are relieved. Those of us fighting…in New York have long known the toxicity of his (Governor Cuomo’s) administration. He’s built out a legacy of attacking the most vulnerable among us.”

Moving forward, Lt. Governor Hochul could work to create and launch a smooth and efficient New York cannabis licensing program, something that Governor Cuomo seems to have dragged his feet on recently. By failing to appoint members to the cannabis commission for the state, recreation sales, as well as cannabis grow operations, are delayed in the state.

Lt. Governor Hochul could change how New York handles cannabis, as well as other drug initiatives, like safe consumption sites in New York City and the opioid epidemic. Once she takes office on August 24, we will update you on any drug policy changes she may make.

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