In his State of the State Address on January 8, 2020, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo vowed to work with the legislature to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana in New York. If Cuomo follows through on his promise, New York will be the 12th state to legalize recreational cannabis; Colorado was the first.
There are very good reasons for states to consider legalizing marijuana. In Colorado, alone, tax money received from the state-legal sale of retail and medical marijuana from February 2014 through December 2019 exceeded $1.2 billion. In 2019 alone, the marijuana excise tax revenue exceeded $300,000, of which 90 percent will be credited to Colorado’s Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund.
With several other states moving in the same direction as New York and with heavy regulation existing in the states that have already legalized the substance, there is a significant need and opportunity for attorneys to practice in the cannabis industry. Nonetheless, because cannabis remains a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), any practitioners wishing to take advantage of such opportunities must be keenly aware of the associated risks.