The fight for federal legalization of marijuana took a step backward today as New York's state legislature failed to pass a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis.
New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D) announced Wednesday morning that her bill, which would have legalized recreational cannabis for the state, was "dead for now" in the state's legislature.
This is not for lack of trying, however. State lawmakers, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), agree that they do want legal recreational cannabis in New York. What they fail to agree on, however, is how to implement it.
Earlier this year, cannabis legalization was removed from New York's state budget, making Krueger's bill more difficult to pass as a stand-alone measure. Now, with the end of the state's legislative session set for June 19, cannabis is not likely to be legalized in New York this year.
According to ABC News, tax spending and social reform contributed to the bill's demise.
"Despite broad support for legalization and polls showing its statewide popularity, lawmakers couldn't agree on the many details of legalization, such as how tax revenue should be spent, whether past pot convictions should be expunged, and whether local communities could opt out of hosting dispensaries or instead would have to opt in."
Some New Yorkers also see this as a step back for social reform in the state. Melissa Moore, Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Alliance NY branch, told The Wall Street Journal, "Comprehensive reform would have been an enormous economic driver for struggling communities across the state. But in a moment when they had a clear avenue for building up marginalized communities, they chose not to act. It's pathetic."
Krueger has vowed not to give up the fight and will continue to work on a program that fits her state. She hopes that if her bill cannot pass as a whole, pieces of her legislation will be passed later in subsequent bills.