While the political evolution on legalizing marijuana has been slow, a new consensus by Democratic leaders seems to have arrived almost overnight.
"I think the debate is largely over in New York and we are down to working out the details," Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried said.
But it's the details that will determine whether New York's program is successful. When the state instituted its medical marijuana program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted that patients could not smoke the drug, which is the most common form of consumption. As a result, advocates say New York's program has had mixed results, with fewer patients than expected actually participating.
"We have to introduce flower both into our medical program and into our adult-use program," marijuana advocate Cristina Buccola said. "'Flower,' meaning the actual marijuana bud that people smoke — some people prefer that in a medical program, but there's a whole different way to use flower that does not involve smoking."
"I think the administration's view on marijuana has changed enormously from 2014 when we did the medical law," said Gottfried, who has been working on marijuana legislation for decades. "I think that is partly due to big changes in public attitude."
This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had previously opposed legalization, weighed in on how he would like to see it done in New York.
"Why don't we, from the very beginning, ensure that the game is not rigged? Instead of creating very loose laws or laws that favor the 1 percent and the corporations, why don't we create laws that explicitly hold the corporations and the 1 percent at bay? Do not even let them into this new industry," the mayor said on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show.
The mayor went on to admit he does not yet have buy-in from Cuomo on his plan to keep the industry community-based, and a spokesperson for the governor was quite dismissive of de Blasio's idea. Ultimately, the city has little say over the process, since a state law would establish marijuana legalization.