New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his proposed state budget, which featured a projection of $300 million in revenue from marijuana commercialization. In response, Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and its New York affiliate, SAM New York, released the following statement:
“At this time, marijuana should be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind in Albany. Our state and nation continue to be ravaged by COVID-19, any second spent by lawmakers deliberating on how to best benefit Big Pot is a slap in the face to New Yorkers who are suffering.
“While the governor is betting large on revenues from Big Pot, a cost report found that legalization would potentially cost the state upwards of $235 million in the first year alone. Furthermore, both Senator Liz Krueger — who sponsors the legalization bill and has been its main champion in Albany, and NYS Budget Director Robert Mujica have repeatedly thrown water on the argument that we must legalize marijuana for the revenue.
“Ironically, Governor Cuomo’s budget seeks to ban flavored vaping products while at the same time it would allow the very industry that created last year’s vaping public health crisis to expand into our state. This underscores the fact that our leadership has not fully thought through the potential ramifications of this drastic policy change.
“Despite being massively outspent in the last two sessions, our broad coalition — including the NYS PTA, the Medical Society of the State of New York, the NY Sheriffs’ Association, NY Chiefs of Police Association, County Health Officials, concerned parents, teachers, and addiction and recovery activists — made their voices heard and stopped the effort to commercialize today’s highly potent marijuana products.
“We look forward to continuing to build upon our record of success and work to help our leaders in Albany understand that this Big Pot Push is severely misguided.”