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Inclusion of Recreational Cannabis in New York State Budget Doubtful as Deadline Looms

Cannabis legalization’s inclusion into New York’s state budget is in question, as governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature are working out the final details of their $175 billion plan, due this Sunday.

In his State of the State address back in January, Cuomo pledged to include legalized recreational cannabis in his budget proposal, saying “Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all.”

This sentiment continued early into this week’s negotiations, although the governor seemed less confident in securing an agreement before Sunday’s deadline.

“We’re working to get marijuana done,” said Cuomo on an Albany public radio station on Monday. “It is complex, and it's the devil is in the details. I don't know that it is done for the budget, but if it's not done after the budget, I believe we get it done after the budget."

Cannabis advocates have been demonstrating outside of the legislature for most of the past week, calling for action on Cuomo’s promises, while school groups and health officials are pressing them to delay the vote.

According to Cuomo’s senior advisor Rich Azzopardi, the governor has been working hard towards legalization, having the state hold 17 listening sessions on the subject.

Still, despite their efforts to include cannabis into this fiscal budget, Azzopardi said that they are preparing to move on without it.

"As the governor said, we have and will continue to work on this proposal with our partners in the Legislature, but, based on comments from legislative leaders and as a matter of fiscal responsibility, we did not count on revenue in the budget," Azzopardi said.

If lawmakers don’t approve a timely budget, they won’t receive their planned $10,000 pay raise scheduled to begin on January 1.

h/t USA Today

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