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."
In 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.