Dec. 17 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the state to legalize recreational marijuana use in a speech on Monday.
"Let's legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all," Cuomo said in an address to the New York City Bar Association outlining his 2019 priorities.
It marks a policy shift for Cuomo, who as recently as 2017 referred to marijuana as a gateway drug leading to narcotics use. During the 2016 gubernatorial primary election, opponent Cynthia Nixon called for legalization of marijuana, saying that current laws target minorities.
State health officials released a report in July, recommending legalization, with Health Commissioner Howard Zucker commenting, "We looked at the pros, we looked at the cons, and when we were done, we realized that the pros outweighed the cons."
The report said the state would see $1.3 billion in additional taxes from the sale of marijuana.
Ten states permit recreational marijuana use, with limitations. Thirty-three states, including New York, have medical marijuana programs.
Although marijuana remains on the federal list of controlled substances, New York would be the largest state, after California, to legalize recreational marijuana. Its prominence could affect the debate on federal legalization.