Discussion of taxing and regulating marijuana picks up steam in New York

Last update: September 24, 2018


In announcing his budget proposal in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a study on the impact of marijuana legalization, a departure from his prior opposition to considering the topic. In addition, in January, the Assembly’s Standing Committees on Codes, Health, and Alcohol and Drug Abuse held a joint hearing to consider legalization and heard from many supportive experts, including MPP. Then, a workshop entitled “From Prisons to Pot: Marijuana Legalization and Revisioning New York State’s Economy” at the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Conference examined the issue in February.

In late August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of “listening sessions” conducted throughout the state to gather input on legalization from community members and stakeholders. Beginning September 5 and continuing through October 17, Assembly committees will hold a total of 17 hearings across the state. Supporters should make their voices heard as their elected representatives decide if, when, and how New York will end marijuana prohibition. Sign up here.

Click here to ask your lawmakers to support ending prohibition in New York.

Gov. Cuomo signs bill adding PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana; lawmakers considering adding more conditions


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, making New York the 28th of the 29 medical marijuana states to allow PTSD patients to qualify. 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.

But, there are still conditions that are not included in New York’s program. New York lawmakers are considering a series of bills that either add conditions or eliminate the list entirely and allow medical professionals to recommend medical cannabis for any severe debilitating condition, A08904 / S07755. Please ask your legislators to ensure that as many patients as possible who could benefit from medical marijuana have access.

New 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.

New York still has not fixed its decrim law 40 years later


New York was one of the first states in the nation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana — in 1977. Yet, 40 years later there is still a giant loophole in the law, which has caused thousands more arrests, and all of the collateral consequences that come with them. The “public view” exception to the decriminalization law has been widely abused by police officers, who order people, mostly young people of color, to empty their pockets and then arrest them for possessing marijuana in public view. Over 18,000 people were still arrested for marijuana possession in 2016, in New York City alone. Yet, these arrests have done nothing to stem the flow of marijuana, as New York has a very robust and sophisticated illicit cannabis market.

The legislature has considered various bills to fix this problem for several years, but they have not moved forward. A more comprehensive fix to New York’s unfair and wasteful marijuana laws would be to legalize marijuana for adults and regulate it like alcohol.


Stay connected


Thank you for supporting MPP. To stay up to date on the status of marijuana policy reform in New York, be sure to subscribe to our alerts.