In a video released online Wednesday morning, Cynthia Nixon got fired up about legalizing marijuana:
"In 2018, in a blue state like New York, marijuana shouldn't even be an issue," the Democratic candidate for governor said. "If there was more political courage coming out of Albany, we would have done this a long time ago."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has previously opposed full legalization. Just last year, he called marijuana a "gateway drug."
At an unrelated event on Long Island, Cuomo was asked if New York is a little behind other states on this issue.
"No, I think we are actually ahead on it," he said. "We announced months ago that we were going to study the legalization issue precisely for that reason."
In January, Cuomo announced the state would authorize a study as part of the budget, but funding for that study was left out. In addition, the study wasn't to look at legalizing marijuana in New York, but how legalization in neighboring states could affect New York's economy.
The Cuomo Administration now says its own Department of Health will study the issue and report back in the fall.
"I'm trying to de-politicize the issue and say let's get the facts. We now have states that have legalized marijuana," the governor said.
Cuomo did sign off on a medical marijuana program for New York State in 2014, but he often referred to that program as the most restrictive in the nation. And it is: the state's medical marijuana program does not even allow the drug to be smoked.
And despite Cuomo's claims, New York is not actually ahead of other states on the issue. Nine other states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational use of the drug. Some on the left consider legalization a key progressive issue.
"There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana. But for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity," Nixon said in her online video.
Last year, Cuomo did propose for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, but it died in the state legislature.
Public sentiment is quickly changing on this issue; New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray recently called for full legalization, and on Wednesday former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, joined a company that distributes cannabis.