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Marijuana in NY: Gov. Cuomo is set to reveal his plan to make it legal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to lay out his plan to legalize recreational marijuana in New York on Tuesday, the latest major step in the state’s move toward allowing the drug for adult use.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo has said he will include his plan in his state budget proposal, a sure sign he’d like to see a recreational marijuana measure passed before the state’s fiscal year begins April 1.

The plan will for the first time answer many outstanding questions since the governor first embraced recreational marijuana late last year, including how much the drug should be taxed and where the revenue should go.

On Wednesday, Cuomo suggested he wants to keep the tax rate competitive with Massachusetts (17 percent in state excise and sales taxes plus an up-to-3 percent local tax) and New Jersey, which has not yet legalized the drug but is working toward it.

While setting a high price to generate revenue is surely tempting, it could come with pitfalls, Cuomo said.

“If you charge too much, you will drive the business back to the illegal sales because it’s just less expensive to buy it illegally than it is to buy it legally,” he told reporters Wednesday. “And since it’s legal anyway, you don’t really have a criminal violation for the illegal purchase.”

A bill sponsored by Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, is somewhat in line with Massachusetts.
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