New York Expected to Legalize in 2019

New York Expected to Legalize in 2019

Just fewer than two years since insisting it was a “gateway drug,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is singing a different tune regarding the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in The Empire State.

“It’s a gateway drug, and marijuana leads to other drugs and there’s a lot of proof that that’s true,” Governor Cuomo said in February of 2017. “There’s two sides to the argument. But I, as of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana.”

Fast forward to present day, and Governor Cuomo is in favor of establishing a regulated, legal market. This was showcased during a recent speech when Cuomo said, “Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all.”

“Legalize Adult Use of Recreational Marijuana,” is also included in his agenda for the first 100 days of 2019. Ending the racial disparity in marijuana related arrests was a major motivator in his shift from opposition. According to the agenda, “Governor Cuomo will end the disproportionate criminalization of one race over another by regulating, legalizing and taxing adult use of recreational marijuana.”

This shift in opinion did not happen overnight. After reading a report from the state Health Department in July of last year, Cuomo acknowledged that, “The situation on marijuana is changing.” The report, titled “Assessment of the Potential Impact of Regulated Marijuana in New York State,” started with a brief history of cannabis in the United states, covering how it was widely used as medicine and sold in pharmacies until the 1930s. The report concluded that there are more advantages to establishing a regulated market than there are disadvantages.

One of the most compelling potential benefits mentioned in the report was the tax revenue the state could collect. An analysis released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer estimated that the legal cannabis market in New York could exceed $3 billion. The tax revenue estimated from sales could be as much as $436 million each year. That amount is difficult to ignore when state schools and law enforcement agencies would benefit greatly from the funds.

Job creation, economic development, fewer minority arrests and the opportunity to explore different options regarding personal health were also listed among the potential benefits that may come with a legal market in New York. “The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in N.Y.S. outweigh the potential negative impacts,” the Health Department concluded. “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.”

Governor Cuomo also recognizes that maintaining prohibition may soon be a waste of state resources since people can make legal purchases in Massachusetts, where retail shops opened doors to the public in November of last year. Legislators in New Jersey are also working to pass legislation to legalize the recreational use and retail sale, and Connecticut is predicted to legalize soon as well.

If New York beats New Jersey to the punch, it will become the 11th state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. It would also be second to legalize by state legislature instead of a voter initiative. The Pew Research Center released a poll in 2018 which revealed that 62 percent of people in America are in favor of legalizing marijuana. An even larger number of millennials, 74 percent, responded that they supported legalization. The number of those in favor has increased since 2015 when only 53 percent reported that they believed cannabis should be legal in the United States.

New York Liquor Stores Want To Sell Marijuana

New York Liquor Stores Want To Sell Marijuana

Instead of creating a whole new system of specialized stores to distribute marijuana when it becomes legal, New York should just allow existing liquor and wine retail outlets to sell cannabis to adults. That’s the position of a new advocacy effort launched by owners of booze shops this month.

“With more than 2,000 wine and liquor stores from Buffalo to Montauk, we offer existing retail space with quick and cheap access to the market in every corner of the state,” reads the website for the group, which is called The Last Store on Main Street. “That means more tax revenue, and sooner, for the State to fulfill basic responsibilities and invest in the future of our neighborhoods.”

The group, which previously defeated an effort to allow wine sales in grocery stores, says that its members shops “operate under a highly regulated system that can easily and reasonably be expanded to cover marijuana retail without building new bureaucracy that only serves to eat into the tax revenues the industry creates.”

Jeff Saunders, the group’s founder, said alcohol retailers are worried that unless they are allowed to sell cannabis, their revenues could suffer.

“Recreational marijuana sales have resulted in significant declines in wine and liquor sales in other states, resulting in job loss and even stores closing,” he said, according to the news outlet New York Upstate.

On the group’s website, New Yorkers who agree with the goal of allowing weed sales in liquor stores can send prewritten letters to their state lawmakers that describe the move an “obvious win-win opportunity for a bedrock industry of New York’s Main Street economies and the future of our state.”

The effort to shape how legalization could roll out comes as the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is taking steps to bring about the end of marijuana prohibition.

Earlier this year, Cuomo directed the state Health Department to study legalizing marijuana, a move that led to a report that found that doing so would have more benefits than risks.

State officials are conducting a series of listening sessions around the state on the topic, and the governor created a task force to draft legalization legislation that lawmakers can consider in 2019.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are already holding hearings on ways to end cannabis prohibition.

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Liquor Stores Want To Sell Marijuana

Expand Medical Marijuana Coverage, New York Senate Report Recommends

Expand Medical Marijuana Coverage, New York Senate Report Recommends

Two days after New York assembly members filed legislation that would require certain health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana, a report from members of the state’s Senate is recommending a similar move.

The state should be “expanding health insurance coverage options for medical marijuana as a method to reduce overall usage of opioid medications,” reads one of the 11 recommendations included in the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction’s report released on Wednesday.

On Monday, 18 members of the legislature’s other chamber introduce a bill that would require publicly funded insurance programs to cover medical cannabis.

Touting previous decisions this year to allow doctors to recommend cannabis to people with substance use disorder and for treatment of acute pain, the task force noted that “studies have indicated that medical marijuana can be an effective tool in the fight against opioid overdoses.”

Senators on the task force wrote that New York should “build on the State Workers’ Compensation Board’s decision that coverage for medical marijuana is permissible as it relates to workers’ compensation claims.”

“This means that individuals (or rather their employers) prescribed medical marijuana under the Compassionate Care Act can legally seek payments from their insurer for reimbursement. Insurers offering coverage outside of the workers’ compensation system are not required to provide coverage for medical marijuana, so individuals often cover the cost out-of-pocket, which is expensive. New York must address the disparity between medical marijuana coverage for those injured at work and the lack of coverage for individuals outside the workers’ compensation system.”

To illustrate the need for expanded coverage, the report highlights the story of a nurse who successfully used medical cannabis for pain relief.

“A nurse by profession, Ms. Rouso-Little explained how after years of opioid treatments for her pain, including fentanyl patches and pills which made her sleep for more than 14 hours a day, she switched to medical marijuana,” it says. “Getting off opioids not only helped relieve her pain more effectively, but, she was able to return to work and her life was transformed.”

“I have my life back and am opiate-free.”

The moves to expand medical cannabis come as state officials are considering legalizing marijuana more broadly.

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Expand Medical Marijuana Coverage, New York Senate Report Recommends

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

Public health insurance programs would be required to cover medical marijuana in New York if a new Assembly bill is enacted.

“Cost is the primary barrier to patient access in New York’s medical marijuana program,” reads a memo attached to the legislation. “Medicaid, other public health plans, and commercial health insurance plans do not cover medical marijuana, forcing patients to pay out of pocket. Some patients begin treatment only to stop due to inability to pay, while others turn to the black market.”

“For thousands of patients, medical marijuana is a safer and more effective medication than other drugs, especially opioids.”

The bill, filed on Monday by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and 17 cosponsors, would add medical cannabis coverage to four publicly funded health programs—Medicaid, Child Health Plus, workers compensation and EPIC, as well as the largely publicly funded Essential Plan.

“For Medicaid and Child Health Plus, there would presumably not be federal matching funds until the federal government changes its policies, but New York’s Medicaid and Child Health Plus programs have always covered people and services for which we do not receive federal match,” the Assembly memo says.

The bill also clarifies that while commercial health insurance programs are not required to cover medical marijuana, they are free to do so. And it would allow state regulators to certify medical marijuana dispensaries as Medicaid providers solely for the purpose of dispensing cannabis.


Marijuana Moment is currently tracking more than 800 cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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If enacted, it would be the latest in a series of steady expansions to the the state’s medical cannabis program. Earlier this year, for example, regulators moved to allow medical marijuana to be recommended for any condition for which opioids would normally be prescribed.

Meanwhile, the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is considering more broadly legalizing marijuana. Officials are conducting a series of listening sessions around the state on the topic, and the governor created a task force to draft legalization legislation that lawmakers can consider in 2019.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

If it were up to voters, marijuana would be legal in New York.

In a new poll released Thursday, 63 percent in the state back ending cannabis prohibition, compared to just 32 percent who want to continue marijuana’s criminal status.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), for now, continues to oppose legalization but is showing signs of shifting his position on the issue amidst a primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, who is making the issue a centerpiece of her campaign.

In the new survey, conducted by Quinnipiac University, 71 percent of Democrats are on board with legalization.

When asked whether “someone who is black and uses marijuana is more likely to be arrested than someone who is white and uses marijuana,” 82 percent of Democrats agreed, while only 28 percent of Republicans acknowledged well-documented racial disparities in cannabis arrests.

While not yet endorsing legalization, Cuomo has ordered the state Department of Health to conduct a study on its effects in other states that have ended prohibition and its possible impact in New York.

Last week, a separate Quinnipiac poll found that 63 percent of U.S. voters support legalizing marijuana.

Record-High Support For Legal Marijuana, New Poll Shows

 

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

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