By David Robinson

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s renewed push to legalize recreational marijuana in New York on Wednesday included a new state-run research center to study cannabis use risks.

The SUNY Global Cannabis Center for Science, Research and Education would focus on mounting questions about potential hazards of using marijuana and hemp-based CBD, the non-psychoactive element of cannabis, according to Cuomo’s plan.

“The federal government failed Americans with opioids, and we cannot allow that to happen with cannabinoids,” Cuomo said in the plan released during Wednesday’s State of the State address.

“Until now, the cannabinoid industry has gone unregulated and unchecked, and there is a dearth of independent research on the science, the safety risks, and the dangers/benefits associated with its potential use,” he added.

The effort comes after Cuomo’s bid to legalize cannabis use for adults failed last year amid opposition from doctors, law enforcement and educators.

What's new in 2020 for legalizing marijuana in New York?

Much of Cuomo’s marijuana plan this year seemingly mirrored his legislation in 2019, including the creation of a new state agency to oversee recreational pot, medical marijuana and hemp.

The proposal would limit recreational pot sales to over age 21 and promote social equity in the cannabis industry through various programs. It also is expected to feature a regional approach to legalizing recreational marijuana in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Cuomo said. 

In announcing the plan, Cuomo also touted New York’s prior achievement when lawmakers in June decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot and expunged prior convictions.

The coming political battle over Cuomo's plan is expected to touch on everything from how to tax legal weed to testing and marketing products. The plan continued to estimate collecting $300 million in marijuana tax revenue when fully implemented.

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