NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York State is studying the possibility of legalizing marijuana, even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo has never really favored the idea and called it a “gateway drug.”
“We are now in the midst of a study on what the consequences would be,” the governor said Friday. “As you know, it’s complicated and it’s controversial.”
But now, with Massachusetts legalizing marijuana and New Jersey considering it, Cuomo may have a change of mind to avoid losing revenue to neighboring states, reports CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
Last month New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans to expand his state’s classifications of medical-use marijuana.
“We are changing the restrictive culture of our medical marijuana program to make it more patient-friendly,” said Murphy. “We are adding five new categories of medical conditions, reducing patient and caregiver fees, and recommending changes in law so patients will be able to obtain the amount of product that they need. Some of these changes will take time, but we are committed to getting it done for all New Jersey residents who can be helped by access to medical marijuana.”
Murphy had made legalizing marijuana part of his campaign for office, including legalized recreational marijuana in New Jersey.
“If there is an opportunity for revenue and regulation, and we can do it in a way that law enforcement can handle it, then that’s a real option,” Cuomo said. “(In the past) I have not supported legalizing marijuana. The situation is changing. I said, let’s do a study.”
In an odd twist, the governor is getting support from New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray.
“I believe we should legalize it, because I don’t think people should be penalized and punished for using it,” she said Friday.
Both de Blasio and his wife have copped to smoking weed when they were younger, but the mayor is still on the fence when it comes to making it legal.
“I’m not there yet,” he said.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce was asked Friday about McCray’s position.
“I don’t think she said anything different than what a lot of people think,” he replied.
Actually, the jury is still out. Many people Kramer spoke with Friday were admittedly on the fence.
But the lure of quick cash may be hard to ignore.
Marijuana became a billion dollar business after Colorado legalized weed, bringing in hundreds of millions in new tax revenue.
New York’s study is expected to be completely by fall.