The Department of Health on Friday released a report that recommends the legalization of marijuana in New York, a move that would take an act of the Legislature and approval by the governor to be made law, but also potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state.

“Because of the over-prosecution of marijuana, a regulated program in NYS should include provisions to address the collateral consequences of prior criminal convictions for marijuana possession or use, such as barriers to housing and education,” the report found. “As the Governor has stated, the impact of legalization in surrounding states has accelerated the need for NYS to address legalization. It has become less a question of whether to legalize but how to do so responsibly.”

The report’s initial findings were first announced three weeks by Health Commissioner Howard Zucker — part of an evolution for an administration led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been skeptical of not just recreational marijuana legalization, but also the creation of a medical marijuana program.

The report included an analysis of different tax rates, finding New York could ultimately be in line for millions of dollars in new tax revenue if marijuana is allowed to be sold commercially in New York, with a tax of 7 percent generating $248 million, and a 15 percent tax generating $340 million, depending on the price-per-ounce of $297.

The state now has a tightly regulated marijuana program for the terminally ill and the program has been expanded to include other illnesses, which Cuomo ultimately backed.

Cuomo announced the plan to study marijuana legalization in other states and its impact on New York in January during his State of the State address. Cuomo has since said “the facts have changed” on the issue of marijuana legalization.

Later in the year, actress and education advocate Cynthia Nixon announced her campaign for governor and embraced marijuana legalization as a platform of her campaign.

Nixon has called for legalization based on a criminal justice reform premise: People of color have disproportionately been impacted by marijuana laws.

The timing of the news for the report was also dribbled out in an unusual way: Zucker announced the main findings of the report as the trial of prominent developers and former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros over bid rigging related to the governor’s upstate economic development program. The trial ended Thursday, a day before the full report was released.

Marijuana Legalization Impact Assessment 7-13-18 by Nick Reisman on Scribd