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Now that budget is done, lawmakers turn focus to marijuana legalization

The 2019-20 state budget is in the books, but state lawmakers still have another three months left in the legislative session.

There’s a lot the spending plan didn’t cover, and in the post-budget session, legislators are on more equal footing with the governor. Here’s what to watch for in the post-budget session.

Marijuana legalization:

The issue remains one of the more complex projects for state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Originally ticketed to be in the state budget, differences and concerns quickly arose at the start of the year. Cuomo wanted to use some of the revenue to fund mass transit in New York City, part of an overall restructuring of the MTA. But lawmakers in support of the plan also wanted to use money generated by marijuana to aid communities effected by stiffer drug laws. And other lawmakers, primarily suburban legislators, raised concerns over traffic safety associated with marijuana legalization.

There is also a criminal justice component to legalization: Records of those with low-level offenses would be expunged.

Cuomo had sought to create a new bureaucracy for cannabis regulation in New York, a move that would have placed medicinal marijauana, hemp and commercial use under one government roof. Lawmakers rejected that idea.

It’s not yet clear if those differences can be ironed out by the end of June.

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