N.Y. Today: Legalizing Marijuana

What you need to know for Thursday.

Why Legalized Marijuana (Finally) Has a Chance in New York

By Amanda Rosa

Fellow, Metro

It’s Thursday.

Weather: High in the mid-40s, but the wind will take any warmth out of a sunny day.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Jan. 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day).

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Cindy Schultz for The New York Times

After years of fits and starts, the legalization of marijuana in New York is most likely in the cards for 2021, given the financial woes spurred by the pandemic.

Lawmakers are back in Albany for the legislative session, which runs through mid-June, and they’ve been tasked with the daunting challenge of fixing the financial damage the coronavirus has done. Now that Democrats have secured a supermajority in both chambers, they have the option to pursue left-wing policies without fear of a veto from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

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To learn more about what New Yorkers can expect, I spoke to my colleague Jesse McKinley, who covers Albany.

Q: What are the top three things New Yorkers should look out for this session?

A: Money, money, money. The state is in an enormous hole — more than $60 billion over the next four years — and budgets all across New York are being crushed by the loss of jobs and tax revenue.

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So starting from that point, a lot of debates will be framed around money. That includes the legalization of marijuana, which the governor proposed — again — on Wednesday. His top budget official, Robert Mujica, said that legal weed could raise $300 million a year. Now, that’s not a billion, but every little bit helps.

What else would raise revenue besides marijuana?

Another possibility is mobile sports betting, which Mr. Cuomo also proposed as a revenue-raiser on Wednesday. It could bring home some money from gamblers who are currently going to New Jersey, where such betting is already legal.

One age-old way of raising revenue, of course, is taxes, and many lawmakers in Albany — including a rising number of progressives — want the state to increase taxes on the wealthy. Among the wide variety of measures that have been proposed are ones targeting billionaires, corporations and capital gains.

The governor has been opposed to new taxes on the wealthy in the past, but he seemed to be softening his tone in recent weeks as the economic damage continued along with the coronavirus crisis.

What role will President-elect Joe Biden play this session?

The incoming Biden administration is expected to be much more amenable than the Trump administration to the idea of a federal bailout of New York. Also, Senator Chuck Schumer is likely to ascend to majority leader. He’s a New Yorker, after all, and from Brooklyn to boot.

Mr. Cuomo is known to have a good relationship with Mr. Biden, which could help, but the governor has clashed with Mr. Schumer in the past.

From The Times

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

A state senator from Queens was fined $15,000 for accepting “valuable gifts” from a local nonprofit. [Queens Daily Eagle]

A New Jersey woman was arrested after a video that appears to show her hurling racist slurs at a Black woman was shared with the police. [NBC]

A fisherman was found a dead body in the water near a Brooklyn pier. [Daily News]

And finally: The first thing they’ll do

The Times’s Sara Aridi writes:

Though public health officials have cautioned that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, the vaccine rollout signals the start of a hopeful chapter after nearly a year of lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing.

Now that imagining an “after time” seems possible, Times readers were asked to share their firsts — the first things they plan to do when the world returns to normal. A total of 803 readers responded, outlining plans for hugs, family visits and dream trips that have been delayed.

Here’s what three New Yorkers said:

“Sharing physical space with my colleagues, who I rely on deeply in my work as a public defender for fortitude, camaraderie and guidance. I miss the small and large moments of our office and courtroom culture that energize me to be the best advocate I can be.”

Mary Gibbons, Brooklyn

“Every year I host a small Christmas party for my friends. Regardless what time of year it is when we’re done with social distancing, I’m going to throw one. We order Chinese food, drink, play games, and then sometimes people crash at my place so we can get brunch to nurse our hangovers.”

Melissa Croce, Brooklyn

“I am a pediatric nurse, and what I miss most is my patients and their parents being able to see me smile.”

Mary McNulty, New York

It’s Thursday — what are you waiting for?

Metropolitan Diary: Good party

Dear Diary:

In 1961 I was 24, living on Minetta Lane in the Village and attending Columbia School of Social Work.

I had two friends who lived on West 10th Street, and they loved to throw parties. They would invite three men, and each one had to bring three more men. I would supply the women.

One October evening, I traipsed across the Village carrying two ice cube trays. The party was in high gear when I arrived. I distributed my ice and then scoped out the room.

We caught each other’s eye and began a mild flirtation. I was touched when in response to my saying that I was studying social work, he told me he taught Sunday school. He was a transplant from a small city in western New York; I had been born and bred in New York City.

“Could I give you a ride home on my vehicle?” he asked. I was dubious, but I agreed.

On the street was a shiny motorcycle. As if I had done it a million times, I jumped on the back and we were off. Our first date was at MoMA. It was my treat since I was a student member. Our next was to a Broadway play.

We married the following February and will celebrate our 59th anniversary in 2021.

— Barbara Federgreen Anderson

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