By Amanda Weston and Kate Gill
Not only has New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reversed his stance on marijuana, he's expediting his timeline for legalization.
According to Joseph Spector, the Albany bureau chief for USA Today, Governor Cuomo committed to an accelerated schedule on Monday when he charted the agenda for the first 100 days of his new term in office.
"What Governor Andrew Cuomo did today was lay out his agenda for his third term, his first 100 days in office, and so having marijuana as part of this certainly signals he wants to do this in the near-term,"Spector told Cheddar Monday.
In Cuomo's address, he offered his most staunch support for legalization yet, saying 2019 is the year to eliminate the drug's "debilitating criminal stigma."
He may even beat New Jersey to the punch, which stalled its plans to legalize the drug in recent months.
"New Jersey seemed to be a little further ahead of New York in terms of moving ahead with legalization," Spector said. "Now New Jersey seems to have shelved their plan ... So can New York get ahead of New Jersey?"
Roughly a year ago, the climate for pot in New York was vastly different. The State Senate was controlled by Republicans, the majority of whom were opposed to legalization, and even Cuomo, a Democrat, called the substance a "gateway drug."
But Spector added that Cuomo's newfound enthusiasm for legalization doesn't mean that the process will be without its complications.
"There's a lot of factors at play here ... We've seen in Massachusetts, for example, it became law but it took several years that stores even started opening across the state."
For full interview click here.