New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has set the legalization of recreational cannabis as one of his administration's top goals for 2020.

In his annual State of the State address, Cuomo framed the plan as part of a broader effort to more fairly balance the New York justice system. "For decades, communities of color were disproportionately affected by the unequal enforcement of marijuana laws," said the Governor.

"This year let's work with our neighbors New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, to coordinate a safe and fair system and let's legalize adult use of marijuana," he added.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Andrew Cuomo.  Image source: New York state government

Cuomo also touted the economic benefits of legalization, in a state that is facing a potentially dramatic increase in its budget deficit. 

Legislative attempts have been made in the past to legalize recreational cannabis in both New York and neighboring New Jersey, but they failed to win enough support. Numerous experts and legal commentators believe that public sentiment has shifted enough for such measures to be successful in the future.

If Cuomo's pledge is fulfilled, the most prominent marijuana companies are sure to pile in. As there currently is no recreational market, their presence is relatively modest in the state now.

Acreage Holdings (OTC:ACRGF), headquartered in New York City, runs a set of dispensaries selling medical product, as does MedMen Enterprises (OTC:MMNFF). The tally for MedMen is four, with two located upstate, and one apiece in New York City and Long Island. That total would have risen had MadMen been successful in its attempted purchase of PharmaCann, however the deal was scuppered last October

In the wake of Cuomo's pronouncements, Acreage Holdings is up by 1.5% in early Thursday trading, while MedMen is off 4.6%.  

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