New York Inches Closer To Legalization

On Monday, New York State Governor Cuomo Cuomo said “passing marijuana reform and legalizing recreational marijuana” remains a priority and that he spent the weekend speaking with Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D), who is the sponsor of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), “working through” the legislation. He said they are “very close on marijuana.” However, some of the sticking points on getting the legislation passed include decisions surround growing cannabis at home and continuing the use of stop and frisk measures when cannabis is smelled.

Melissa Moore, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance and member of Start SMART NY Coalition (Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade) said, “Today’s Siena poll confirms that New Yorkers across the board are overwhelmingly in favor of marijuana legalization. Nearly 60 percent of New York State residents support legal marijuana for adult use — and it’s universal. Literally every single category of voters from every corner of the state — women, men, liberals, conservatives, from upstate, downstate and everywhere in between — supports legal marijuana now. Given this broad-based mandate, it is imperative that the absolute best marijuana reform bill becomes law. We urge swift passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S.854/A.1248) to secure justice, jobs, and equity for the millions of New Yorkers that have borne the brunt of marijuana criminalization and restitution for the communities most harmed by the war on drugs. The time to act is now.”

“We’ve tried to do that for the past three years, we have to get it done this year,” he said. “There’s been too many young lives that have been ruined because of the marijuana laws.”

The actual language is as follows:

Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act: The Assembly proposes to continue discussions with the Executive and the Senate to provide for the legalization and regulation of the cultivation, production, sale of cannabis and cannabis products for adult-use, expanding the existing medical cannabis program and address the collateral consequences of the criminalization of cannabis. The Assembly supports the establishment of a centralized regulatory approach for the licensure and regulation of medical, adult-use, and hemp-based cannabis and cannabis
products and businesses through the creation of a regulatory body comprised of legislative and executive appointments, as well as ex-officio agency representation from agencies
involved in implementation.

The Assembly also supports provisions to: reduce criminal penalties attributed to future cannabis-related activity; expand the ability of individuals to vacate or expunge certain lower level past cannabis convictions; protect legal rights in the workplace; ensure appropriate standards and protections are in place as it relates to public assistance, child care workers, foster parents and investigations of child abuse, neglect, and endangerment involving the use of cannabis; provide access to business mentoring, application process assistance, incubators, capital and other social equity programs necessary to support the long-term success of social and economic equity applicants as part of a plan  to award percent of adult-use cannabis licenses to individuals in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by past criminalization of cannabis, communities of color, minority- and women-owned business, disadvantaged farmers and service-disabled veterans; establish a reasonable tax structure related to the sale of adult-use cannabis; provide for personal cultivation; ensure access to medical cannabis is maintained and expanded; recognize community priorities through local opt-out provisions from the adult-use market; and other priorities deemed necessary and appropriate.

The Assembly maintains that it is critically important that revenue generated from legalization of cannabis be invested in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by past criminalization of cannabis, including creating a Community Grants Reinvestment Fund. Therefore, the Assembly will further continue discussions on how to direct revenue to ensure that funds will be used for: public education; job creation, skills development and training; social justice and reentry services for impacted communities; substance use disorder services and mental health services; community-based supportive services; expanded training for state and local law enforcement to maintain driver safety; and any other uses deemed necessary and appropriate.

“This is not about getting in the red zone anymore,” he added, using a football metaphor. “We have to get over the goal line this time. We need the seven points.”

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