(NBC NEWS) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday called on New York state to fully legalize recreational marijuana, which would open the door for sales, regulation and taxes on the drug.
“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” he said during a speech outlining his 2019 legislative priorities.
Monday’s address marked a significant shift, as recently as 2017 had called marijuana a “gateway drug” that could lead to more significant abuse.
In this past year’s Democratic primary, his opponent, Cynthia Nixon, had called for the legalization of pot, arguing that current marijuana laws unfairly target minorities. In addition, the Governor will soon be negotiating with a fully Democratic-controlled state legislature, which should make it easier to make legalization possible.
The governor has recently voiced some support for New York to join the ranks of Alaska, Colorado, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and the District of Columbia, all of which have legal recreational pot.
Outside of California, New York would be the largest state to do so, and its prominence could affect the national debate on legalization. Marijuana remains on the federal list of controlled substances.
There are a total of 33 states — which include the 10 recreational pot states — that have legalized medical marijuana programs, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association.
A spokesperson for the trade group said Monday that the Governor’s turnaround is late but welcomed.
“The reality is that politicians have lagged behind society’s view and they’re just now starting to catch up,” the association’s communications director, Morgan Fox, told NBC News