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What Governor Cuomo’s Dilemma Means for Legal Weed in New York

In recent weeks, several women have come forward to detail sexual assault and harassment claims against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has a longstanding reputation as a bully. Many political rivals have accused him of this, but these latest allegations are more troubling than the Governor standing at a podium and delivering acerbic remarks about those with whom he disagrees.

This could mean the end of Cuomo’s political career, but so far, he’s fighting back against his accusers. Politics are Cuomo’s life, and he won’t go down without a fight. What’s interesting to think about is what this means for his constituents, particularly those clamoring for legal recreational marijuana.

The Allegations

If you’re up against false allegations, as Cuomo claims he is, then hopefully, the truth will come out. The accusers will have to recant if there’s no physical evidence to back up their claims, or at least their accusations will not have long-term consequences.

On the other hand, if the evidence indicates that what the accusers say is true, then that can and should have an impact on the individual who perpetrated those actions. In Cuomo’s case, the evidence seems to be mounting that he did at least some of what his accusers allege.

The accusations range from inappropriate sexual questions to unwanted touching. One woman even alleges that Cuomo kissed her without her consent. That crosses the line from sexual harassment to assault, and the legal system has to take it seriously.

Obviously, a forced kiss isn’t as bad as rape or something along those lines, but it’s still abhorrent behavior. If Cuomo is guilty of it, he should resign. The difficulty will be in proving definitively that he did what these women allege.

What Does This Have to Do with Legal Weed?

This is where legal weed comes in. New York is lagging behind several other nearby states that have already legalized recreational marijuana.

New Jersey legalized recently and should enjoy a tax revenue infusion. New York could sure use one as well, especially since the coronavirus has decimated the economy statewide.

Legal weed will allow people in New York State who want to get high to do so. However, it will also help the individuals who suffer from various conditions, but who for one reason or another cannot get a medical dispensation, to smoke or ingest edibles.

Governor Cuomo was against legal recreational weed for a long time. He was fighting against the tide, though. Even if he might find the whole issue distasteful to talk about, he had to know that more people wanted this than didn’t. If he fought against it, he would probably lose when the next election came up.

The Immediate Future

Cuomo issued statements leading into this year indicating that he could support legal weed if New York’s legislative body could draft a bill of which everyone approved. Coming up with one has proven difficult, though. That is because many New York politicians from both up and downstate have put forth different notions for how they might spend the tax money that legal weed will generate.

Now, within the past couple of days, lawmakers and Cuomo have drafted a bill that it seems everyone can get behind. In the coming week, legislative votes should occur.

This could mean that people who want to party on the weekends can do so. More importantly, though, communities of color that face disproportionate arrest stats for marijuana possession will start to see a movement toward equality.

It’s not surprising that Cuomo should choose this moment to agree with a legal weed bill where he had been tepid toward previous ones. He badly needs a slam-dunk political win right now, and this should be a big one for him.

The question is whether the Governor might use the momentum from this achievement to hold off the wolves that are baying for his resignation. It’s not that legal weed has any direct impact on his guilt, but if he can crow about a political achievement, he probably feels like he might be able to rekindle at least a little public support.

Since there does not seem to be direct sexual assault or harassment evidence other than hearsay, it’s possible that Cuomo can weather this storm. With pressure mounting, though, maybe the Governor will admit defeat at some point and resign. All New York and the rest of the country can do is stay tuned and find out.

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