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Governor Andrew Cuomo's Changing Position on Marijuana: A Timeline

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration is almost finished with a study on recreational marijuana that many expect could clear the way for the Democrat to back legalizing the drug.

Cuomo, however, has long been more cautious on marijuana than many within his party, reiterating his opposition to recreational marijuana as recently as last year, when he called it a gateway drug.

Here's a look at Cuomo's history with marijuana policy and how his positions have changed over the years.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's Changing Position on Marijuana: A Timeline

August 2002: Admits to marijuana use

During his first, ill-fated run for governor, Cuomo says he "tried marijuana in my youth." He later reiterated this when he was asked about any past drug use during his second run for governor in 2010.

October 2010: Opposed to medical marijuana

A week before his election as governor, Cuomo comes out against medical marijuana. "The dangers of medical marijuana outweigh the benefits," he said.

July 2011: 'Reviewing' medical marijuana

Cuomo tells reporters he’s studying the issue of medical marijuana. “We’re talking to both sides of the issue, if you will, and we’re reviewing it, but we don’t have a final position," he said.

April 2012: Re-iterates opposition

“I understand the benefits, but there are also risks and I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point," Cuomo said.

June 2012: Push for lesser marijuana penalties

Cuomo proposes reducing the penalty for public possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana.

“If you possess marijuana privately, it’s a violation," he said. "If you show it in public, it’s a crime. It’s incongruous.” Senate Republicans ultimately block the proposal.

April 2013: Still opposed to medical marijuana

“We’re looking at it, but at this point I don’t support medical marijuana," he said.

December 2013: No to recreational marijuana

A Democratic senator proposes a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, but a Cuomo spokesman calls it a “non-starter.”`

January 2014: Support for medical marijuana

Cuomo reverses his medical marijuana position, pledging to launch a program that would make the drug available on a very limited basis at up to 20 hospitals. “I feel comfortable with this approach," he said.

June 2014: Broader medical marijuana program approved

Lawmakers approve a bill creating a broader medical-marijuana program in New York. On Cuomo’s insistence, it included a number of strict restrictions, including a ban on smokeable forms of the drug and limits on the number of dispensaries. He signs the bill.

February 2017: Calls marijuana a 'gateway drug'

Cuomo reiterates opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana.

“As of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana," he said. "If you choose to use marijuana recreationally, you know the law.” Calls marijuana a “gateway drug.”

January 2018: Launches legal marijuana study

Cuomo launches a study of whether it’s plausible to legalize marijuana for recreational use in New York, noting neighboring states Massachusetts and Vermont have done so.

“It is a hotly debated topic, pardon the pun, and it would be nice to have some facts in the middle of the debate," he said.

April 3, 2018: Study promised 'by the fall'

Department of Health spokeswoman says the agency will “collect the relevant information by the fall, at which point it will be reviewed and a report will be prepared.”

April 11, 2018: Nixon calls for legal marijuana

Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo’s Democratic opponent, calls for legalizing recreational marijuana.

May 14, 2018: New timeline for marijuana study

Cuomo says the marijuana study will be completed “within days” – not the fall, as the Health Department had previously said.

May 23, 2018: NY Democratic Party backs legal marijuana

Delegates at the state Democratic Party's designating convention back the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. The resolution comes the same day Cuomo, who leads the state party, was nominated by party delegates for a third term.

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