New York might be getting a step closer to legalizing marijuana.
The state health department has completed its much-anticipated study into the legalization of the drug, but as of the time of this writing it has not been released.
Sources said Tuesday that the study — which Gov. Andrew Cuomo commissioned earlier this year — highlights the benefits of legalization on criminal justice reforms and a tax on the drug, but it stops short of fully endorsing the legalization.
Two weeks ago, Cuomo said the report would come in a matter of days A spokesperson for the governor told NY1 shortly before 7 p.m. that Cuomo has not yet reviewed the report. The governor could tweak the report.
Elected officials and advocates who support legalization often cite the potential extra revenue a tax on marijuana could bring to New York, and argue the drug needs to be decriminalized due to the racial disparities in arrests. Data from New York City shows that black and Latino men have been arrested at disproportionate rates for marijuana possession.
The study comes after Cuomo changed his stance on marijuana during the primary season. His challenger in the Democratic primary, Cynthia Nixon, has endorsed the legalization.
Last year, Cuomo referred to marijuana as a "gateway drug."
HOW THE CITY HAS RESPONDED TO CALLS FOR LEGALIZATION
A growing number of city elected officials have called for legalization in the past few weeks, including City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Many of them have pointed out the racial disparities in arrests.
A little more than a week ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would order the NYPD to issue summonses to people caught smoking marijuana in public instead of arresting them.
He is also creating a task force made up of city officials that would tackle issues, such as how police officers would handle public smokers, and create public health campaigns.
Like Cuomo, de Blasio has long been lukewarm towards legalizing the drug for recreational use, but he has expressed more openness in recent weeks as political momentum has grown in New York state.
Massachusetts recently legalized marijuana. New Jersey is expected to follow suit.