As the current legislative session comes to a close in New York, cannabis legalization will not be making it through.
On Wednesday morning Senator Liz Krueger (D) announced that her bill, which would have seen recreational cannabis legalized in the Empire State, is "dead for now".
Krueger's bill came after months of debate between NY lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on how to proceed with legalization in New York. Leaders in both the Assembly and Senate along with Cuomo are all in support of cannabis legalization, but have had difficulty in drafting a plan that appeases all parties. Lawmakers worked through the weekend to try to get a bill ready to be voted on before the end of the session on June 19, but failed to do so.
Krueger's proposed bill would have legalized the use and possession of cannabis for adults over 21 and created a regulated market for the sale of cannabis products. In addition, it would have had minor cannabis convictions wiped from state criminal records. Tax revenues generated from cannabis sales would have been directed at communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.
With the failing of this bill, cannabis legalization is not likely to happen this year.
Some advocates for cannabis policy reform have seen lawmakers' inability to come to agreement on the bill as a serious shortcoming for social justice in New York.
"Comprehensive reform would have been an enormous economic driver for struggling communities across the state. But in a moment when they had a clear avenue for building up marginalized communities, they chose not to act. It's pathetic," Melissa Moore—deputy directory of the Drug Policy Alliance NY branch—told The Wall Street Journal.
However, Krueger has stated she will continue to work on a legalization program "with all the right safeguards and commitments to reinvestment in communities most harmed by decades of failed prohibition policies" and is hopeful that some pieces of her legislation will subsequently be passed in separate bills.