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Key New York Senator Says No Need To Rush Marijuana Legalization Amid Coronavirus

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New York lawmakers will likely have to take up marijuana legalization after the coronavirus threat it neutralized, a key senator told Marijuana Moment on Friday.

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has urged legislators to include legalization language in the annual budget, the pandemic has shifted legislative priorities. Sen. Liz Krueger (D), the sponsor of a recently revised reform bill, signaled earlier this week that the state’s need to respond to the public health crisis would mean that advancing legalization through the budget ahead of an April 1 deadline would not be achievable.

In a new statement to Marijuana Moment, she said the legislature and governor “are deeply engaged in ensuring we quickly pass a budget that meets the immediate needs of our state as we face this crisis,” but cannabis reform may not make the cut.

“Assembly [Majority Leader] Peoples-Stokes and I have put forward what I believe to be the best proposal to achieve marijuana legalization, and I would be happy to see the Governor include it in his budget,” she said. “However, while it is important that we end marijuana prohibition as soon as possible, it is also important that it be done the right way.”

“If that cannot be achieved in the midst of a public health crisis, then we will all be better off waiting. There is no reason we cannot negotiate and pass a nation-leading legalization model when the crisis is over,” Krueger said.

Cuomo, who has said the budget is the best vehicle to achieve legalization, also included the proposal in his spending plan last year. However, lawmakers could not agree on the specifics, with the question of how cannabis revenue would be spent being a key issue of contention.

Drug policy reform efforts are taking a major hit amid the coronavirus outbreak. From California to Washington, D.C., activists are scrambling as they temporarily suspend traditional campaign activities while still hoping to collect enough signatures to qualify measures for the ballot.

Psilocybin legalization activists in California are asking the government to allow electronic signatures for their initiative. Psychedelics decriminalization advocates in D.C. made a similar request. A campaign to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska said on Thursday that the group is also pausing its efforts.

Nebraska Medical Marijuana Campaign Suspended Due To Coronavirus

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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