NY Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal To Legalize And Create An Equitable Adult-Use Cannabis Program As Part Of The 2021 State Of The State

Proposal to Create the new Office of Cannabis Management to Regulate State Medical and Adult-use Cannabis and Cannabinoid Hemp Programs

Equitable Market Structure to Invest in Individuals and Communities Disproportionately Impacted by Prohibition

NEW YORK: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a proposal to legalize and create a comprehensive system to oversee and regulate cannabis in New York as part of the 2021 State of the State. Under the Governor’s proposal, a new Office of Cannabis Management would be created to oversee the new adult-use program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Once fully implemented, legalization is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue.

“Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

“Despite the many challenges New York has faced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also created a number of opportunities to correct longstanding wrongs and build New York back better than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

The Governor’s proposal builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Building on that important work, the proposal reflects national standards and emerging best practices to promote responsible use, limiting the sale of cannabis products to adults 21 and over and establishing stringent quality and safety controls including strict regulation of the packaging, labeling, advertising, and testing of all cannabis products. Cannabis regulation also offers the opportunity to invest in research and direct resources to communities that have been most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Governor Cuomo Announces Proposed Regulations For Cannabinoid Hemp Products

Department of Health’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program Will License Processors and Retailers and Set Quality Control Standards

NEW YORK:  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Department of Health has filed proposed regulations to regulate cannabinoid hemp products in New York State. In accordance with legislation signed earlier this year by the Governor, the Department is creating a Cannabinoid Hemp Program. The Program will license both cannabinoid hemp processors and retailers and set quality control standards that all cannabinoid hemp products must meet.

“These regulations are the next step toward regulating the growing hemp industry in New York in a way that protects consumers and helps ensure the industry’s long-term viability,” said Governor Cuomo. “Establishing the State’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program to regulate production and sale of hemp and hemp extract will help protect both consumers and farmers.”

The Cannabinoid Hemp Program will organize and legitimize the cannabinoid market in New York State by creating a licensing framework for cannabinoid hemp processors and retailers, and by establishing basic manufacturing, packaging and labeling and laboratory testing standards. Currently, applications for cannabinoid hemp processing and retailing licenses are under development, and NYSDOH intends to make them available in early 2021.

In 2015, the Governor launched the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program, supporting farmers and further boosting economic development in upstate New York. Since then, New York’s hemp program has expanded significantly, making New York one of the leading hemp producing states in the country, with more than 700 farmers and 100 manufacturers of hemp products. Hemp is a sustainable, carbon-sequestering crop that is capable of being transformed into hundreds of products including textiles, furniture, fuel, food, construction materials and personal care items.

Some hemp products that have been growing in popularity include cannabinoid hemp products such as Cannabidiol, or CBD, which can be found online or in retail stores throughout the state. While regulations exist at the federal level for the growth of hemp, there are currently no federal regulations for the processing and manufacturing of cannabinoid hemp products, resulting in the cannabinoid hemp marketplace lacking basic consumer protections that are common in similar industries. There are published reports of cannabinoid hemp products that do not contain any cannabinoids but contain unspecified or inconsistent levels of THC – the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant – or are contaminated with harmful toxins.

The proposed regulations fill this regulatory void and create a system allowing for the use of hemp-derived cannabinoids in certain foods, beverages, topicalsand dietary supplement products, provided regulatory requirements are satisfied. All cannabinoid hemp products must be manufactured using good manufacturing practices based on the end product’s intended use. The label must contain the total amount of cannabinoids in the product, number of cannabinoids per serving, a nutritional or supplement fact panel, information about whether the product contains THC and appropriate warnings stating the product is not intended for children, its use may cause the failure of a drug test, the product has not been evaluated by the FDA and if pregnant or nursing, to consult a healthcare provider before use.

Additionally, cannabinoid hemp products are required to be laboratory-tested before entering the market, with testing for their cannabinoid profile, heavy metals, microbial impurities, mycotoxins, pesticides and residual solvents. This information is required to be retrievable by the consumer in the form of a QR code or corresponding link on the product label. Retailers are prohibited from selling inhalable cannabinoid hemp products, such as vape products, to consumers under 21 years of age. Processors are prohibited from making claims suggesting the product will diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “When you purchase a product, you should have confidence that what is stated on the label is actually in the product. With the increased production and use of cannabinoid hemp products, New York State could not wait for the federal government to act to institute basic consumer protections to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers.”

Senator Jen Metzger said, “These regulations will provide much-awaited certainty for the hemp industry and offer a tremendous opportunity for our farmers while ensuring that we have the standards consumers need for a safe and high-quality product. As the Senate sponsor of the bill that created the regulatory framework for hemp, I want to thank the Governor for his continued leadership to advance the hemp industry and move the regulatory process forward, and I urge New York farmers and all stakeholders to review the regulations and provide input during the 60-day comment period.”

Assembly Member Donna Lupardo said, “With these regulations, New York is creating a national model for consumer safety, requiring strict labeling and production standards. The inclusion of cannabinoid extracts in food and beverages will provide new economic opportunities for farmers, processors, manufacturers, and retailers throughout the state. I appreciate the Governor’s continued commitment to New York’s hemp industry and look forward to working with his administration as these regulations are finalized through the public comment period.”

For more information on New York’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program and to view the proposed regulations, please visit: https://health.ny.gov/regulations/hemp/.

Governor Cuomo Announces Plan For Marijuana Legalization, Calls For Automatic Record Sealing And Economic Justice

Statement from DPA’s Kassandra Frederique: New York Can Atone For Mass Criminalization By Passing Most Progressive Legalization Bill in U.S.

NEW YORK: Governor Cuomo called for effectively ending marijuana prohibition in New York State and creating a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol for adults over the age of 21. Advocates have emphasized the need for reform be rooted in racial and economic justice—not solely a cash grab—and highlighted that legalization must center those who have been impacted.

Drug_Policy_Alliance_logo

Members of the Start SMART NY coalition (Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade) – which is comprised of organizations and advocates dedicated to criminal justice reform, civil rights, public health, and community-based organizations who support legalization – affirmed that legislation must center the communities most harmed by marijuana prohibition.  This means reinvesting new tax revenues in these communities and remedying problems that stem from biased enforcement, which disproportionately affects Black and Latino New Yorkers. This reinvestment must be community-led, responsive to the harms caused, and accountable to communities.

Statement from Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance:

“Repairing the damage done by marijuana prohibition is not negotiable.  Restitution to communities most impacted by marijuana prohibition is the starting line.  Legalization in New York must be as comprehensive as the damage that has been done throughout the state.”

“We have the chance to pass the most progressive marijuana legalization bill in the U.S.  Given New York’s appalling history with racially biased marijuana enforcement, we must be bold and innovative in creating justice and equity. We want to see a policy that is responsive to the lives of New Yorkers, not solely business interests.  Legalization can be an economic engine driving wealth and equity in marginalized communities and providing space for alternative economic systems—if we work intentionally.”

The Governor’s proposal would:
•    Reduce impacts of criminalization affecting communities of color.
•    Automatically seal certain cannabis-related criminal records.
•    Implement quality control and consumer protections to safeguard public health.
•    Allow counties and large cities to opt out.
•    Restrict marijuana access to anyone under 21.
•    Generate approximately $300 million in tax revenue and create jobs.

Advocates are awaiting the full bill text. In the meantime, the Start SMART coalition calls for these provisions in any legalization initiative:
•    Making revenue available for efforts that will invest in communities harmed by the war on drugs and mass incarceration through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.
•    Banning vertical integration to provide the maximum amount of space for new companies to develop and contribute to a New York–focused market.
•    Establishing a licensing structure designed to create a favorable environment for small businesses and family-scale farmers, which creates space for entrepreneurial efforts to be launched in small towns and rural areas, as well as disproportionately impacted communities across the state.
•    Including a micro-license structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, that allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.
•    Establishing a small business incubator program to provide direct support to small-scale operators who are marijuana license holders in the form of legal counseling services, education, small business coaching, compliance assistance, and funding in the form of grants or low- or zero-interest loans.

 

New York: Cuomo Administration To Back Adult Use Marijuana Bill

NEW YORK: A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that creating a framework for legalizing adult marijuana use is among the administration’s 2019 legislative priorities.

“The goal of this administration is to create a model program for regulated adult-use marijuana – and we determined the best way to do that was to ensure our final proposal captures the views of everyday New Yorkers,” said Tyrone Stevens, a spokesperson for the Governor. “Now that the listening sessions have concluded, the working group has begun accessing and reviewing the feedback we received and we expect to introduce a formal comprehensive proposal during the 2019 legislative session.”

In July, a Health Department study commissioned by the Governor’s office recommended legalizing adult marijuana use and commerce. It concluded: “A regulated marijuana program enjoys broad support and would have significant health, social justice, and economic benefits. … Regulating marijuana enables public health officials to minimize the potential risks of marijuana use through outreach, education, quantity limits at point of sale, quality control, and consumer protection. … The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in New York State outweigh the potential negative impacts.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit Empire State NORML.

NY Governor Cuomo Forms Workgroup To Draft Legislation for Regulated Adult-Use Marijuana Program

NEW YORK: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today appointed a workgroup to draft legislation for a regulated adult-use marijuana program for the legislature to consider in the upcoming session based on the findings of a multi-agency study he commissioned in January. The study, led by the Department of Health, concluded that the positive impacts of a regulated marijuana market in New York State outweigh the potential negative impacts, and that areas that may be a cause for concern can be mitigated with regulation and proper use of public education that is 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. “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. I thank the members of the workgroup for their time and expertise as we work to craft a model program.”

Seal_of_New_YorkIn January of 2018, Governor Cuomo directed the DOH to conduct a study 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 DOH report, issued on July 13, concluded that the positive impact of a regulated marijuana market in New York State outweigh the potential negative aspects.

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. Moreover, 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.  Further the workgroup will be tasked with engaging with the leadership of both the State Senate and the State Assembly, as well as bill sponsors of medical and regulated marijuana legislation (Senator Diane Savino, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Crystal Peoples Stokes), 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 workgroup will consist of the following members:

  • David Holtgrave, PhD, Dean, School of Public Health, University at Albany
  • R. Lorraine Collins, PhD, Associate Dean for Research, University at Buffalo
  • Jeff Reynolds, PhD, CEO, Family and Children’s Association of Long Island
  • Brendan Cox, former Albany Police Chief
  • Angela H. Hawken, PhD, Professor of Public Policy, NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management
  • Natasha Schüll, PhD, Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU Steinhardt
  • Tracie Gardner, Associate Director at the Legal Action Center
  • Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, MS, Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David
  • Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker
  • Budget Director Robert Mujica
  • Chief Diversity Officer for New York State Lourdes Zapata
  • Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan
  • Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez
  • Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Sheila Poole
  • Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul Karas
  • New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II
  • Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion
  • New York State Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball
  • Empire State Development Corporation Commissioner Howard Zemsky

The regulated adult-use marijuana program will build on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to reducing the number of nonviolent individuals who become needlessly entangled in the criminal justice system and record of expanding access to medical marijuana. Since 2012, the Governor 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 failed to adopt the proposal. In 2014, Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law, establishing New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program. Since then, the Governor has continued to advance improvements to the program to better serve patients.

NY Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Bill; Cuomo to Sign

NEW YORK: New York will become the latest state to legalize medical marijuana after the Senate on Friday passed a bill allowing the drug in non-smokeable form.

After a lengthy, emotional debate, the Senate voted 49-10 to approve the bill, which would authorize marijuana for therapeutic purposes for patients with serious diseases or conditions like cancer, AIDS and epilepsy. The Assembly approved the bill around 2:45 a.m. Friday, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already pledged his support. [Read more…]

New York Leaders Have Tentative Deal on Medical Marijuana

NEW YORK — Legislative leaders said on Thursday that they had a tentative agreement on a pilot program to provide access to medical marijuana to sick New Yorkers, making the state one of the largest to embrace the drug as medicine.

The announcement came after days of intense negotiations between the Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, who had proffered a more restrictive system earlier this year that was roundly criticized as unworkable for the needs of thousands of potential patients. [Read more…]