Marijuana: Where N.Y. Stands on Legalization – The New York Times


Weather: Partly cloudy, with a high in the low 50s. Temps will reach the mid-60s this weekend.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King’s Birthday).

Governor Cuomo has several priorities for New York in 2020. Chief among them: legalizing pot.

To learn more, I spoke with our Albany bureau chief, Jesse McKinley, about why the governor is making a bold move toward marijuana legalization and what it might look like.

[Marijuana will be legalized in New York, Cuomo says.]

Jesse, the governor vowed on Wednesday in his annual State of the State address to legalize marijuana in New York. What did you make of it?

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Marijuana legalization looked as if it was going to become a reality last year. Legalization seemed to have support from lawmakers and virtually all Democrats, who felt this was a criminal justice and social justice matter for people of color who had been disproportionately affected by the drug war. For many, this was seen as a way to make amends and to economically enable those communities.

But then, slowly, the measure began to lag. Some blamed the governor for not getting behind the idea strongly enough.

Last year, the push fell apart because of disagreements over who should be allowed to sell pot and where the revenue should go. What has changed?

Very little, actually. That’s still a major issue.

In the Assembly, which is generally considered more liberal than the Senate, Crystal Peoples-Stokes — an esteemed lawmaker from Buffalo who is African-American — has been very clear that a lot of the jobs and businesses from this industry must be located in communities of color. She wants guarantees that if lawmakers legalize marijuana, significant revenue will be spent in communities of color, and not just put in the general fund or frittered away on other things.

On the other hand, there are those who see marijuana as a gateway drug that poses a serious issue, similar to opioids. They want strict regulations on who is able to grow it, sell it and profit from it.

Also now, there’s the issue of vaping.

Mr. Cuomo’s pledge came as the state faces down a $6 billion budget gap. How and when would revenue from marijuana sales chip away at that shortfall?

It would certainly not happen this year, even in the most optimistic scenario.

Even if this was up and running by fall, you probably wouldn’t see revenue this fiscal year, and, if so, it would be minor.

What would legalization mean for the consumer?

For small amounts of marijuana, up to two ounces, it’s basically decriminalized. So, no more people worried about getting arrested and hauled in for smoking a joint in Washington Square Park.

If you look at states like California, which has legalized, marijuana is a very glittery business. You walk into pot stores in San Francisco and it’s like walking into the Apple Store. You can order 100 different varietals of chocolates, tinctures, cookies, brownies. You would anticipate that some part of a New York market would look like that.

Then again, there’s still a black market in California and elsewhere.

He redrew the subway map. Officials say he can’t sell his version. [Vice]

After anti-Semitic attacks, Jews in Brooklyn are learning to fight back. Literally. [Gothamist]

What we’re watching: The Times’s Jeffery C. Mays discusses Mayor de Blasio on “The New York Times Close Up With Sam Roberts.” The show airs tonight at 8 p.m., tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. [CUNY TV]


Sister Sylvester performs “The Eagle and the Tortoise,” a theatrical reading experience about the life of a young Turkish woman, at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. 7 p.m. [$25]

Alexis Palmer Karl expands on the thematic elements of fashion in “Death and the Maiden” at the National Arts Club in Manhattan. 7 p.m. [Free]


A horticulturist leads an exploration of ornamental gardens of the black diaspora at the Staten Island Museum. 2 p.m. [Free with museum admission]

New York University’s costume studies program holds an opening reception for the exhibition “The Tuxedo Redefined: Formality, Fluidity and Femininity” in Manhattan. 5 p.m. [Free]


Join a workshop and walk-through of the “Workers’ Studio: El Co-op” exhibition at the Queens Museum. 2 p.m. [Free with museum admission]

— Danya Issawi and Melissa Guerrero

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.

Seth Berkman writes:

Meadowlands Arena, once the home of professional basketball and hockey showdowns, is staging an atypical second act.

Aging stadiums are usually demolished after their expiration date. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority technically closed Meadowlands Arena, last known as the Izod Center, in early 2015.

But on a November afternoon inside the arena, next to where Nets guard Jason Kidd routinely blew kisses before shooting free throws, workers were constructing a prison interview room.

Over the past year, the dormant arena has been reincarnated and discreetly used as a soundstage for NBC prime-time dramas. NBCUniversal invested more than $750,000 in preparing the space for production and has so far hired more than 1,250 people to work there. The series “Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector,” which premieres today, began filming there in September.

For “Lincoln Rhyme,” luxury boxes overlooking the arena floor were turned into offices for production assistants, accounting, props and other departments. The Nets locker room served as costume headquarters.

In front of thousands of empty plum-colored seats, the arena floor was transformed into sets replicating Upper West Side brownstones.

NBC is leasing Meadowlands Arena from the state’s sports authority through at least March.

It’s Friday — transform yourself.


Dear Diary:

My first New York apartment was a scruffy, narrow loft. It had 11 bedrooms jutting off the a skinny hallway, including an under-the-stairs cave, and above it what we called the D.J. booth (it had no door).

My bedroom window looked out onto the cacophony of Canal Street. Trucks on their way to the Holland Tunnel rumbled by at all hours. The living room looked onto quiet Lispenard Street at the other end of the loft. The place had two bathrooms, one small kitchen and no dishwasher.

There were about a dozen of us there — someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend was always moving in or out — and we all led our own separate lives. Sometimes we would convene to play poker or share a meal.

One day, a few of the guys found a huge television on a sidewalk in TriBeCa. It had a sign on it that said, “I work, I promise, enjoy.”

The guys hauled it back to our building and up several flights of stairs, and then plunked it in the living room.

We had not previously had a TV, so we were initially excited. Movie nights ensued. But arguments quickly broke out about who could watch what and when. Nothing was the same after that.

It wasn’t long before I moved out.

— Becca Bergman Bull

New York Today is published weekdays around 6 a.m. Sign up here to get it by email. You can also find it at

We’re experimenting with the format of New York Today. What would you like to see more (or less) of? Post a comment or email us:

This article originally appeared here in

Leave a Reply