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The Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to creating a model program for controlled recreational marijuana use in New York State.
"As we have said since August, the goal of this administration is to create a model program for regulated adult-use cannabis — and the best way to do that is to ensure our final proposal captures the views of everyday New Yorkers," said Cuomo spokesman Tyrone Stevens.
"That's why Governor Cuomo launched 17 listening sessions in cities across the state to give every community in every corner of New York the opportunity to be heard," Stevens added. "Now that the listening sessions have concluded, the working group has begun accessing and reviewing the feedback we received and we expect to introduce a formal comprehensive proposal early in the 2019 legislative session."
As part of a well-telegraphed initiative, the governor's office hosted the listening sessions throughout September and October to gauge community appetite on the implementations of a regulated marijuana program in New York State. Cuomo's office said in August that community input would "assist the Regulated Marijuana Workgroup in drafting legislation for an adult-use marijuana program for the legislature to consider in the upcoming season."
Earlier this year, a multi-agency study commissioned by Governor Cuomo and led by the Department of Health concluded that "the positive effects of regulating an adult marijuana market in NYS outweigh the potential negative impacts."
"I have reviewed the multi-agency report commissioned last January and have discussed its findings with Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker," Cuomo said on Aug. 2. "The next steps must be taken thoughtfully and deliberately. As we work to implement the report's recommendations through legislation, we must thoroughly consider all aspects of a regulated marijuana program, including its impact on public health, criminal justice and State revenue, and mitigate any potential risks associated with it."
Shares of major Canadian cannabis producers that trade on U.S. exchanges closed mixed on Tuesday. Tilray and Cronos Group both fell, while Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis rose 6.9 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. Some of the shares ticked higher after the NY Post reported the comments from Cuomo's office.
While cannabis in the U.S. remains federally illegal, the industry analysts believe the U.S. market for cannabis could be sizable, with the current illicit market valued at around $40 billion to $50 billion. According to the latest Gallup poll, 66 percent of survey respondents now support legalizing marijuana. That's a record high and was the third consecutive year that support for legalization has increased to record levels.
A study released in May by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer projected OKing marijuana use could foster a $3.1 billion market in the Empire State.
The comptroller's office also said that, by applying tax rates in line with other states, New York could "reap as much $436 million annually in new tax revenue from legal marijuana sales." New York City alone could garner as much as $335 million, Stringer's office said, which "could be used to invest in communities most damaged by decades of criminalizing marijuana usage and possession."
In the 2018 midterm elections, Michiganders chose to authorize the legalization of possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by those who are at least 21 years old. Ten states and the District of Columbia have now approved recreational use of pot.
In Colorado, marijuana retailers made $1.5 billion last year and accrued $247 million in taxes and fees, according to state records.