Legalization measures fail in 2019 session

Last update: June 21, 2019


After months of debate on how the state will legalize marijuana, the legislature adjourned on June 21, 2019 without voting on the issue.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the legislature to legalize cannabis, but his legalization proposal was not included in the state budget earlier this year. The Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act was then introduced late in the session, but that measure was not able to gain enough support in the Senate to receive a vote before the legislature’s deadline.

The focus now shifts to 2020. The majority of New Yorkers, Gov. Cuomo, and legislative leaders support ending cannabis prohibition. Let your lawmakers know you want them to pass legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis!


Legislature improves decriminalization law


Meanwhile, just before it adjourned, the legislature approved a bill that will prevent thousands of arrests and remove their scarlet letters for minor marijuana convictions. The bill now awaits action from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who is expected to sign it.

The legislature approved A08420 / S06579, which will fix the state’s decriminalization law and add automatic expungement. The bill would reduce the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana to a $50 fine (from $100). It also closes the “public view” loophole that law enforcement used as a pretext to arrest tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and automatically erases old convictions for decriminalized conduct. More details are available here.

Gov. Cuomo signs bill adding PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana


To mark Veterans Day, in November 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an MPP Foundation-backed bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. In addition, the Department of Health added chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions in 2017. MPP and our supporters urged that restrictions in the proposed rules be removed, and while the Department of Health declined to do so, it did clarify that patients need not try opioids prior to qualifying for medical cannabis.

Poll shows 62% of New York voters support legalizing and taxing marijuana


The poll, which is available here, was commissioned by MPP Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance and conducted by Emerson College in November 2017. A majority supported legalization across all party affiliations and age groups, except people aged 75 and older. Hopefully, lawmakers will soon catch up to their constituents and pass legislation to tax and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and over. Click here to ask them to do so.

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