Cannabis industry leaders are confident that New York will legalize recreational marijuana before the legislative session ends on June 2.
Last month Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled an updated version of the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act as part of a proposed state budget. There is a deadline of April 1 for it to pass, as that is when the budget will be finalized.
If CRTA fails to make it onto the budget, lawmakers can try to pass it as a standalone bill before the legislative session ends on June 2. Cuomo has pressured lawmakers to approve the bill, claiming it will bolster the state’s coffers, significantly boost the economy, and address social inequality.
Previous attempts to legalize marijuana have crashed and burned, but the industry believes this one could be different.
“The coalition is optimistic about the state expanding medical cannabis and legalizing adult use in the current legislative session, and will do so in a way that makes New York a model for how to do this right,” said Katie Neer, chair of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association.
Neer, the director of government affairs at Acreage Holdings, made the claim as she welcomed major producers Green Thumb Industries, Curaleaf, and Cresco into the coalition. Her views were echoed by Ngiste Abebe, president of the NYMCIA and director of public policy for Columbia Care.
Cuomo signed legislation permitting medical cannabis use in July 14 following a 49-10 vote in the Senate. Medical sales began in January 2016, and there are now 40 medical cannabis dispensaries operating in New York.
They serve around 500,000 residents within a 1,400-square-mile radius per location, and NYMCIA said large swathes of patients are “underserved”. It pointed out that the ratio for dispensaries to patients is twice as high in Illinois, three times as high in Michigan, and seven times as high in Florida.
It is lobbying the state to increase the number of medical marijuana dispensary licenses in order to address this issue. NYMCIA also believes that co-location of medical and recreational cannabis sales within the same dispensary would be the best way to proceed if and when New York does legalize adult-use marijuana.
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