Andrew Cuomo Archives - Green Market Report

Gretchen GaileyJanuary 29, 2020
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Governor Andrew Cuomo (NY) announced his plans to legalize cannabis for adult use in his state budget speech last week. He made the announcement with such enthusiasm some think legalization is an actual possibility this year. A major stumbling block in 2019 was sorting out the social and criminal justice issues that come with cannabis legalization, it will be so again this year.

Can the Empire State overcome the usual pitfalls and set up a market that will finally address those disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs?  Unlikely.

If we look closely at the Cuomo cannabis plan there are red flags. According to Cuomo’s budget, “the program will limit the number of producers and retail dispensaries to guard against a market collapse.” 

That may sound good but time and again states that have limited licensing markets face serious product shortages, increased consumer cost, and greater startup expenses that ultimately keep illicit markets going. 

Fewer licenses at higher costs mean fewer entrepreneurs. In many markets the initial capital requirements are so high minority entrepreneurs can’t compete. 

Cuomo says that he wants to “encourage equity through craft growers and cooperatives, and provide training and incubators to ensure meaningful and sustained participation by communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition.” If you read between the lines, that means the minorities who cannot meet the state’s high standards for a license will be thrown a bone and be allowed into a collective of other potential unworthy license holders who won’t be able to compete with the deep pockets of more established brands. None the less, come election day, it may seem to some that the Governor kept his promise for social and criminal justice.

The budget also says, “the Office of Cannabis Management will administer social equity licensing opportunities, implement an egalitarian adult-use market structure….” 

The fastest way to develop an egalitarian cannabis model is unlimited licensing, low barriers to entry, access to capital, ending “grandfathering” of medical market license holders, and a strict government agency that ensures access to minority entrepreneurs and polices abuse like shell companies scooping up licenses. 

While a truly free market is the American way, that free market needs to be tempered with reasonable regulation.  However, that regulation should not limit the number of licenses, or make licenses inaccessible to less established entrepreneurs.


William SumnerJuly 30, 2019
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On July 29, 2019, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a measure that reduces the penalties for cannabis possession.

“While the failure to pass a comprehensive legalization bill is an unfortunate loss to the taxpayers of New York, the decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis is significant progress for social justice initiatives, an underreported aspect of the legalization movement,” said Evan Eneman, CEO of MGO|ELLO Alliance, a cannabis finance and banking firm.

Although New York decriminalized the possession of 23 grams or less of cannabis in 1977, tens of thousands of New Yorkers have still found themselves arrested and charged with possessing small amounts of cannabis. Between 2008 and 2017, approximately 360,000 people have been arrested for cannabis possession, the majority of which have been persons of color.

“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.”

Despite recent legalization developments, THC drug tests still remain common and are performed by up to 63% of US employers. As a result, medical marijuana patients may still need to detox from weed before applying for a job.

Though the majority of New York residents support cannabis legalization, the state legislature failed this year to pass a full-legalization bill. The primary reason for the bill’s failure was due to disagreements over diversity requirements for licensees. To many, the recently passed decriminalization bill is seen as a stop-gap measure while the legislature works out the details of full legalization.

The new law reduces cannabis possession to a violation punishable by a fine and removes criminal penalties for cannabis possession under two ounces. The measure also creates a process for individuals charged with cannabis possession to have their records expunged, both retroactively and for future convictions.

Individuals caught possessing cannabis will be fined $50 for the first offense and fined $200 for a second offense within three years of the first violation. Those caught for a third time within three years will be subject to a $250 fine and/or 15 days in jail. The new law will go into effect on August 29, 2019.

Medical Marijuana Inc.’s (OTC: MJNA) Dr. Stuart Titus said, “New York has a history of leading the way in many legislative policies for the U.S. and we hope that this new decriminalization measure in New York will set an example for other states, and the federal government to follow.”

The illegal nature of cannabis hasn’t frightened the investors away. Eneman added, “The cannabis industry isn’t waiting for regulators to catch up, as demonstrated by the record-setting pace of venture capital investing, as detailed in the MGO | ELLO Cannabis Private Investment Review. The report shows investment exceeding $1.3 billion already through the first half of this year as compared to $1B in total in 2018. Investors have a strong appetite for cannabis and they aren’t letting roadblocks like legalization stand in their way.”

 


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The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis


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