The US state of New York has legalised the use of cannabis, or marijuana, and is quashing convictions of residents who have been previously indicted for possession or use, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier said he would give the go-ahead to a bill that allows the sale of recreational marijuana after legislators voted to approve it.
"For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of colour with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalised communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public," Cuomo said.
His statement was released after the NY Senate voted 40-23 in favour of the law, and the Assembly supported it 100-49, making New York the 16th US state to legalise cannabis sales. At the moment, marijuana has been permitted for medicinal use in the state since 2014, and its possession is partly decriminalised. However, the new law will allow people aged 21 and older to purchase it legally from licensed shops.
Although some studies suggest that marijuana may help those infected with COVID-19, it is unclear whether this will help Cuomo to restore his public image, damaged by the pandemic, after allegations emerged that he misrepresented data regarding nursing-home deaths.
At the same time, according to some reports, he also ordered state Health Department officials to prioritise his family for COVID-19 testing.
The governor is now facing accusations from several women who claim he made suggestive comments, as well as groped and kissed them against their will. According to recent reports, Cuomo is under an independent investigation organised by State Attorney General Letitia James, along with a probe in the State Assembly "as a prelude to impeachment proceedings".
A number of his fellow Democrat politicians, including Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, have already called for Cuomo to resign, but he is denying the accusations and refuses to leave the office.