The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania have agreed to work together on a regional consensus for a legal recreational marijuana industry.
The plans include setting similar tax rates and common standards on THC content, edibles, and advertising. The quartet of Democrat governors believe regional consistency would help enforcement efforts and aid efforts to seize market share from illicit marijuana suppliers.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said they are trying to avoid a situation whereby consumers are driving across state lines to purchase cheaper cannabis. He fears that they would use the marijuana while driving back home, and said uniformity around tax rates and potency would reduce the chances of that happening.
Representatives from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Colorado were also present at the summit. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said the goal is to coordinate recreational marijuana legalization and regulation on a regional basis, arguing that a “patchwork quilt of marijuana regulations makes no sense at all”.
The governors also discussed implementing vaping standards across their states. There have now been at least 33 vaping-related deaths across the United States, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, while more than 1,400 lung illnesses have been reported nationwide.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has attributed the outbreak to illicit THC cartridges sold on the black market. New York has implemented a ban on the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes, ostensibly to deter teens from vaping, but a judge has put that ban on hold.
Cuomo told the summit that a lack of federal action on both marijuana and vaping has forced states to take matters into their own hands. Collaborating makes the message stronger, he said, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy agreed that a coordinated approach is the best way forward.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently voiced his support for recreational marijuana to be legalized, and urged state lawmakers to get a bill on his desk. Legislative efforts are underway, but getting a bill through both chambers will be difficult, as the Republicans control the Pennsylvania legislature.
One candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Tom Steyer, said this week that there should be a national referendum on recreational marijuana legalization.
Fellow presidential nomination candidate Bernie Sanders congratulated Canada on a year of marijuana legalization on Thursday. “As far as I can tell, the sky has not fallen and the cities have not plunged into anarchy on the other side,” he said.
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