Governors Reach Set of Core Principles on Issues Related to Market Regulation and Empowerment; Public Health; Public Safety and Enforcement; and Vaping Best Practices
Governors, Joined by Officials and Legislative Leaders from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Discuss Outlines of Joint Regional Approach to Cannabis and Vaping Policies
Governor Cuomo: "This is a very important topic and it's probably one of the most challenging issues that I know that I've had to address in the State of New York. It is complicated, it is controversial and it is consequential - and that is a very difficult and challenging combination... This is a challenge for all of us. There is a desire to do this. I believe the people of this state and our surrounding states have a desire to do it. But the old expression the devil is in the details - how you do this - makes all the difference. And as I said it can be a positive if done right; it can be a negative if it is not done correctly. So, the goal is to collaborate with one another, to share resources, and thinking collectively as we are all trying to figure this out."
Earlier today, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf co-hosted the Regional Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit. The Governors, joined by legislative leaders and officials from New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, discussed a collaborative joint regional approach to cannabis and vaping legislation and policies. Following the Summit, the Governors reached a set of core principles on issues related to market regulation and empowerment; public health; public safety and enforcement; and vaping best practices.
AUDIO of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you all very much for being here. I'm very excited about today. We don't something like this often as a matter of fact, this is the first time I think we've ever done it here in the State of New York. I'm very pleased to welcome my colleagues, the Governors who are participating today. Governor Murphy from the great State of New Jersey. He's here with his Senate Leader Steve Sweeney. I want to welcome them and thank them. We have Governor Wolf from the great State of Pennsylvania and it's a pleasure to join with him. And we have Governor Lamont who is here from Connecticut. We did a visit to Connecticut a few weeks ago and we were talking about what we could do together and this idea was actually brainstormed at that meeting. And Governor Lamont has Senator Abrams from Connecticut and we welcome her here also.
We want to thank Paulis from the State of Colorado who sent a team here today to talk to us about Colorado. We know Colorado has learned from their experience. We also want to thank Governor Baker who sent a team from Massachusetts which has, as you know, legalized marijuana. And they're going to speak to us about their experience. I'd also like to thank my legislative leaders: Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for being here.
Before we begin, we lost a great Congressman last night, Elijah Cummings. I had the good fortune to work with him when I was in Washington. And he was really special. He was the real deal, as they say. He had passion, he was beautiful to listen to from the microphone. And he was doing extraordinary work in Washington and we lost him much too young. We remember him today and we remember him every day.
Why don't we start by going around the table so people can introduce themselves?
Thank you very much. This is, as you can see, a cannabis and vaping summit. Cannabis is the technical word. New York, we still call it basically marijuana but we wanted to be respectful. This is a very important topic and it's probably one of the most challenging issues that I know that I've had to address in the State of New York. It is complicated, it is controversial and it is consequential - and that is a very difficult and challenging combination. Consequential because if you do not do it right you can do harm and the whole purpose here is to do good, so it is very important. It's also, there's not all that much history and experience here to follow and that's why Colorado and Massachusetts are extraordinarily helpful to us and I think will be instructive.
The teams have already done a lot of work before today. They've been working for weeks - that's about two months, Governor? - on a staff level, putting together the issues and doing the preparatory work. They divided the issues into five main categories.
The first is vaping and related issues. The vaping issues in and of themselves are pressing and important, and then vaping connects to the legalization of marijuana because much of marijuana is also vaped. So the first session will be vaping. The State of New Jersey, the team from New Jersey, is going to take the lead on that presentation.
The second category is market regulation and social justice issues on legalization, empowerment issues on legalization, and the State of Pennsylvania is going to take the lead on that issue.
The public health consequences of cannabis, marijuana and vaping - New York will take a lead on that. We have Health Commissioner Zucker here.
And then public safety issues, and there are significant public safety issues. We have more experience with alcohol and driving that we do with driving while under the influence of drugs such as marijuana, and Connecticut will take the lead on public safety issues.
We'll then have a best practices and lessons learned session, where the State of Colorado will talk us through their experiences because they were in many ways the case of first impression and they went through a number of iterations. So what did they learn and what can we take from that? Basically, the point is this is a challenge for all of us. There is a desire to do this. I believe the people of this state and our surrounding states have a desire to do it. But the old expression the devil is in the details, how you do this makes all the difference. And as I said it can be a positive if done right, it can be a negative if it is not done correctly. So, the goal is to collaborate with one another, to share resources, and thinking collectively as we are all trying to figure this out.
And to the extent regional coordination makes sense, why? Because we do not want someone driving from New York to Connecticut or from New Jersey to New York to buy marijuana, and then drive back and then possibly be using it in the car. So, to the extent that regional coordination makes sense and is politically practicable, we want to do that.
Governor Murphy and I both sit on the Port Authority. The Port Authority was way ahead of its time. 1921, regional coordination is the intelligent form of government. That was 1921. And the Port Authority has institutionalized that between New York and New Jersey. It runs the bridges and tunnels, etc. It brings us together because it says that is nice that you have your state lines but you really operate as a region. And this extrapolates on that intelligence. This is a regional issue and to the extent that we can collaborate and do it as a collective - that is great. I understand all the reasons that make that difficult. But that is the basic concept.
One other point, the federal government in situations like this would normally be helpful. In theory, the federal government is supposed to get involved in issues that go beyond one states borders. That is not happening on this issue. It is not happening on the environment. It is not happening on infrastructure. It is not happening on anything. So, Governor Lamont and I were together and I said there is liberation in the acknowledgement that we are on our own. Stop waiting for someone to come in and help. We are on our own on a small boat in the middle of the ocean. Start paddling. Let's paddle together.
With that, I will turn it over to the co-convener of this summit, Governor Lamont.