NY State Marijuana Hearings This Fall

NY State Marijuana Hearings
NYS Capitol in Albany

NY’s Legislature has announced four NY State marijuana hearings this Fall.  I will attend them and report back anything of interest.  This is a great sign that legalization is on the fast track to becoming a reality.  The Governor has strongly signaled his support by releasing the study that concluded it wasn’t a case of if but when and how to do the legalization.  Now the legislature is dipping their foot in the water too.

The NY State marijuana hearings will cover topics including economic regulations, criminal justice policy, public health concerns and diversity in the marijuana industry.

Hearing Topics

Dates have not yet been set for the NY State marijuana hearings.  The announcement on the hearings was made by:

  • Assembly Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol (considers issues and legislation regarding the State’s criminal and civil justice system);
  • Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (issues of public health);
  • Governmental Operations Committee Chair Crystal Peoples-Stokes (The issue areas of the Committee include: governmental reform, human rights, rights of individuals with disabilities, Minority and Women owned Businesses) and;
  • Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee Chair Linda B. Rosenthal (develops and considers legislation impacting programs that provide prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals and families in New York State.).

Hemp and Industry, Economy

I am surprised to see no marijuana or hemp related hearing from the Agriculture Committee chair.  Hemp should be on the table as well as marijuana but it apparently is not.  There also is no indication that the Chair for Economic Development, Job Creation and Industry is on board.  Let’s hope he gets with the program because New York will be one of the biggest marijuana markets in the world and we shouldn’t go into this with out clear intentions and goals.

Taxes and Regulations

I am quite familiar with NY politics and I really hope that they can keep the taxes fairly reasonable to hit the illegal market hard and also to remove some of the very onerous regulation on medical marijuana to preserve it for New York’s patients.  History would indicate that New York will screw this up but I am hopeful that we can learn from other states’ recent experiences and mistakes.

Stigma and Terminology

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried does not like the term “recreational” and said in his session report “People hear the term “recreational use” and think the bill is about people having fun. The reality is that it’s about a punitive criminal justice approach, enforced with massive racial disparity, that destroys tens of thousands of lives a year.”  Assembly Kevin Cahill is adamantly against the term recreational saying “Decriminalized, legalized, regulated, state sanctioned marijuana distribution, use and possession is not about encouraging or even a benign acceptance of a “recreational” use of the substance. In fact, the persistent labeling of efforts to remove criminal sanctions and state prohibitions against the creation of markets as legalizing “recreational” marijuana, far overstates and misrepresents the intent of most legislative sponsors. It trivializes the reasoning behind advocacy for such changes and risks sending an inaccurate and inappropriate message to the general public, but in particular, young people….only six percent of Americans over the age of 50 cited recreational purposes for consumption. Pain relief was the primary motivating factor. Additional surveys have found therapeutic, appetite enhancement, relaxation and aiding sleep as dominating factors.”

Stay Tuned on the NY Marijuana Hearings

So stay tuned to this page.  Your friendly reporter (me) will attend these hearings and let you know how things look.  Right now my educated guess is that a bill to legalize marijuana will be a part of the 2019 annual budget negotiations and the governor and legislature will use it as just one more bargaining chip in one big ugly three men in a back room negotiation where everything and nothing is important and everyone gets a little of what they want.  Watch for the Governor to release his proposal with a bang in January 2019 when he releases his budget proposal and the bills that accompany it.


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