New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said on Monday that recent efforts to coordinate marijuana legalization plans across states in the region are helping to facilitate responses to the coronavirus.
During a press conference, the governor said that because the federal government has failed to adequately provide resources to address the current health crisis, it’s incumbent upon states to develop their own strategies and policies. But to do that requires some level of regional coordination, he said.
The Northeast already has some infrastructure to accomplish that, he said, crediting a tri-state effort to legalize cannabis with allowing the state governments to communicate and ensure that their coronavirus responses share basic principles.
“The best way is for me not only to have a uniform policy within the state of New York, but to the extent you can, cooperate with surrounding states so you all have a common set of practices,” he said. “I don’t want to close down bars in New York, but Connecticut leaves the bars open. Why? Because then many people will get in their car and they’ll drive to Connecticut to go to a bar, which is the last thing we want.”
Cuomo said that regional coordination is “very hard to do,” but the experience of developing shared policies for cannabis reform is simplifying it.
“Luckily we have set a template where our regional states work together,” he said. “Many of you came to our regional meeting on marijuana laws. I have a good relationship that I’ve developed with the surrounding governors. We have actually deployed that here.”
The governor, who included legalization in his budget proposal for the second year in a row and stressed the need for the reform move in his State of the State address, announced last month that he planned to visit several legal cannabis states to learn from their experience and take those lessons back home.
However, given the administrative need to prioritize a coronavirus response, he recently indicated that those travel plans would be placed on hold.
Photo courtesy of YouTube/NYGov.