New York Appoints Group to Draft Legislation for Adult-Use Marijuana Program

August 3, 2018

New York has appointed a working group to draft legislation to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana in the state.

The move comes soon after a N.Y. Department of Health study commissioned by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo concluded that the positive effects of marijuana legalization outweigh the potential costs, and areas that may be a cause for concern can be mitigated with regulation and proper use of public education tailored to address key populations.

“I have reviewed the multi-agency report commissioned last January and have discussed its findings with Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker,” said Governor Cuomo in a press release issued by his office. “The next steps must be taken thoughtfully and deliberately. As we work to implement the report’s recommendations through legislation, we must thoroughly consider all aspects of a regulated marijuana program, including its impact on public health, criminal justice and state revenue, and mitigate any potential risks associated with it.”

In January 2018, Governor Cuomo directed the DOH to conduct the study, issued July 13, of a regulated marijuana program in New York State to determine the health, economic and criminal justice impacts of a regulated market and the consequences to New York State resulting from legalization in surrounding states.

The report found that regulation of marijuana benefits public health by enabling government oversight of the production, testing, labeling, distribution and sale of marijuana. The creation of a regulated marijuana program would enable New York State to better control licensing, ensure quality control and consumer protection, and set age and quantity restrictions, the report said.

Additionally, the report found that a regulated program would reduce racial disparities in criminalization and incarceration rates and recommended sealing the criminal records of individuals with prior low-level marijuana-related offenses. The report also specifically recommended the creation of a workgroup of subject matter experts to make recommendations to the state.

The workgroup will be overseen by Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David, who will work with members to provide them with information and support and coordinate among the Executive Branch and stakeholders. It will consist of individuals with specialized knowledge, including experts in public health, public safety and economics, and the leaders of relevant state agencies.

The group will also be tasked with engaging the leadership of both the State Senate and the State Assembly, as well as bill sponsors of medical and regulated marijuana legislation, advocates and academic experts with experience from other states including Mark Kleiman, professor of public policy at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management, and Beau Kilmer, senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation.

The regulated adult-use marijuana program will build on Cuomo’s commitment to reducing the number of nonviolent individuals who become involved in the criminal justice system and record of expanding access to medical marijuana, the press release stated.

Since 2012, Cuomo has twice proposed legislation to ensure that possession of a small amount of marijuana, whether public or private, is treated as a violation and not as a misdemeanor, but the legislature has not adopted the proposal.

In 2014, Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law, establishing New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program.

Source: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office

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