NEW YORK – Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) on November 6 hosted Cannabis Law: From Criminalization to Opportunity, billed by organizers as the largest cannabis policy reform event ever held on New York Recreational Cannabis.
“Was there ever an industry better situated to be a for-profit/social impact dual function?” asked CUBE CEO John Rudikoff in his opening remarks.
State Senator Liz Krueger said that the political winds blowing around marijuana have shifted and New York should be the next state to legalize marijuana. Federal prohibition prevents the state and private entrepreneurs from capitalizing on the full economic potential of cannabis, she said.
“We see our neighboring states legalize, we see the economics escaping us,” said Krueger, whose district 28 stretches along Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “You just see other states going down this road, and the world didn’t end out in Colorado.”
In June, Krueger re-introduced New York State Senate Bill S3040A, dubbed the “Marihuana Regulation and Taxation ACT” (MRTA). It’s currently idling in committee where the two previous iterations of the bill died, she said.
New York is one of 29 states which have legalized medical marijuana. Approved by state legislators and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014, New York’s program launched in January 2016 as one of the more conservative programs in the country.
It originally only allowed patients with illnesses including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease to consume smokeless forms of cannabis. The state later added chronic pain as a qualifying condition last March, and Saturday – Veterans Day – Cuomo signed legislation to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying ailments that can legally be treated with medical marijuana.
Krueger’s latest bill at would establish a legal market for adult-use cannabis in the state, with the product taxed and regulated like alcohol. However, the latest version also frames legalization as a matter of criminal justice reform, earning the support of Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit advocating for responsible and equitable legal regulation of New York Recreational Cannabis.
The bill would expand resentencing and reclassification of crimes for people previously convicted for marijuana, as well as remove a positive marijuana test as justification for violating a person’s parole or probation and protect against discrimination in housing and employment based on a prior marijuana arrest or off-the-clock marijuana use.