New York Marijuana News

New Jersey is moving “full weed ahead” toward legalizing recreational marijuana. In his inauguration speech on Tuesday, newly elected Democratic governor Phil Murphy said that his vision for a “stronger and fairer New Jersey … includes a process to legalize marijuana,” as part of a broader package of criminal-justice reforms.

While Murphy frames his support for marijuana legalization primarily as a means of combating mass incarceration and racial disparities in criminal justice, there is also a fiscal component to his pitch: By some estimates, a legal pot market could provide the Garden State with an additional $300 million in revenue by 2020. Given New Jersey’s pension obligations, myriad public-sector needs, and already-high property and income taxes (which are set to bite harder, thanks to the GOP tax bill), the revenue argument for bringing the cannabis trade into the legitimate economy may prove the most salient.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed an Obama-era policy that had enabled states to pursue marijuana legalization without threat of federal interference (so long as they took measures to prevent reefer from getting into the hands of minors or criminal gangs). But Sessions’s memo still afforded U.S. Attorneys the prosecutorial discretion to leave dispensaries be. And, for the moment, they appear to be taking a laissez-faire approach to policing the weed trade in the eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

There are pockets of support for marijuana prohibition within the Democrat-controlled state legislature. But former governor Chris Christie had long been the primary obstacle to legalization. The president of New Jersey’s State Senate, Stephen Sweeney, is a staunch supporter of legalizing weed. Sweeney’s position empowers him to unilaterally decide which bills receive public hearings or floor votes, and the Senate president has vowed to put a pot bill on Murphy’s desk within

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a study to look at the pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana in New York. Cuomo’s proposal was part of his state budget address on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Jon Campbell / Albany Bureau

New York is launching a feasibility study to examine whether it should allow marijuana for recreational use in the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce the study Tuesday. (AP file photo)(Photo: Jim Mone, AP)

ALBANY – New York will study whether it’s plausible to legalize marijuana for recreational use as neighboring states move ahead with it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Cuomo called on lawmakers to approve funding for a feasibility study as part of his annual state budget address, where he laid out his spending proposal for the coming year.

The study would examine the effect of legalization in Massachusetts, Vermont and possibly New Jersey would have on New York and what types of potential roadblocks could exist if the state were to relax its marijuana laws, particularly as the Trump administration has given prosecutors more leeway to prosecute federal-level marijuana laws.

Cuomo’s announcement comes after at least nine states and Washington D.C. have legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

That includes two of New York’s neighboring states: Massachusetts, whose voters approved legalized pot in 2016, and Vermont, where lawmakers voted in favor if it earlier this month

More: NY state budget: Four ways it could affect you

More: Money woes hamper New York’s medical marijuana program

More: Analysis: Cuomo eyes harmony in Albany, acrimony with Washington

Incoming New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has also said he supports legalizing recreational marijuana.

New York’s study would be led by the state

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Legal weed may soon be a thing in New York, in part because all the state’s friends are doing it.

Recreational cannabis is now on the books in Maine and Massachusetts, and New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont are expected to join in the coming year. Last fall, a Gallup poll showed that a record-high 64 percent of Americans favor legalization of recreational marijuana. And on Monday, the Daily News reported that Republican gubernatorial candidate Joel Giambra floated a plan to legalize weed and use the tax revenue generated from it to pay for key subway improvements. 

A pot revolution is happening in America, dear readers, and it’s high time the Empire State hops on board. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who as recently as last year publicly opposed legalizing cannabis for recreational use, was singing a different tune this week. At his annual budget address on Tuesday, he called for the state to form a panel to advise him on the prospect of legalizing marijuana. 

This announcement came less than a week after the New York State Assembly held a hearing on the possibility of legalizing the devil’s lettuce and on the same day that New Jersey’s new governor Phil Murphy was sworn into office.

“A stronger and fairer New Jersey embraces comprehensive criminal justice reform, including a process to legalize marijuana,” Murphy said in his inauguration speech. 

If Murphy and the main powers in the New Jersey state legislature have their way, the Garden State could have a marijuana legalization law on the books as soon as April. Such an ambitious timeline puts a new kind of pressure on its easterly neighbors. New York City is a brief train ride or drive away from Jersey, and if cannabis does become legal there, one could expect a rush of interstate trips made by New Yorkers

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his 2018 State of the State address. Photo Credit: The Associate Press/Hans Pennink

ALBANY—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants New York to fund a study of the possible impact of legalizing recreational marijuana in the state, the Democratic governor said at his annual budget address on Tuesday afternoon.

The governor also proposed requiring companies that sell more than $100 million annually to collect sales taxes on items they sell and proposed imposing an “opioid epidemic surcharge” on prescription opioid medications. He also signaled that he would make an exception for a 2 percent spending cap for courts provided that judges certify they’ll keep courtrooms open until 5 p.m. to alleviate a backlog of cases.

“Marijuana—things are happening,” Cuomo said, proposing a study by the state Department of Health to determine the health and economic impacts of legalizing the drug, which is already legal for certain medical purposes in the state.

The proposed study would also determine the criminal justice impact and consequences to New York state from legalization occurring in neighboring states, according to the governor’s budget PowerPoint presentation.

Details on the study remain scarce, although the governor said the panel charged with conducting it would include representatives of state police to get the “facts” on marijuana legalization.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision earlier this month, however, to rescind Obama-era guidelines for relatively lenient enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized cannabis has cast a shadow over state laws legitimizing medical and recreational marijuana and the cannabis industry.

“New Jersey may legalize marijuana. Massachusetts already has. On the other hand, Attorney General Sessions says he’s going to end marijuana in every state. So you have the whole confluence of different information,” Cuomo said during his presentation to the Legislature.  “I think we should fund [the

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During a press conference in Buffalo, New York, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Joel Giambra pitched cannabis legalization tax revenues as a way to address the state’s infrastructure problems, WGRZ2 reports. However, the former Erie County Executive stopped short of offering a plan or an exact tax dollar amount a taxed-and-regulated cannabis industry could offer state coffers.

“I think that legalizing marijuana and using the revenues to create an infrastructure fund to deal with these problems is a much more appropriate way to solve our problems than raising new taxes. … Adult use of marijuana is going to be happening all around us. For New York state not to get serious about ending criminal activity and the black market underground economy makes no sense.” – Giambra, on potential legalization

Republican political strategist Carl Calabrese called Giambra’s plan “a bit surprising” and said that voters might not rank legalization among their top 5 issues.

“I can never remember seeing legalization of drugs or marijuana in particular in the top five. And that’s what really drives voters. They may have plus or minus on certain issues, but if it’s not their core issue, their primary issue that drives them to vote for Candidate A or Candidate B, it doesn’t matter if you make that your key issue. It’s gotta be their key issue, the voter’s key issue.” – Calabrese to WGRZ2

Other potential GOP candidates for governor of the Democratic stronghold include Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and state Sen. John DeFrancisco; however, Giambra’s proposal could appeal to pro-cannabis Democrats who are fed up with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s prohibitionist stance on the issue.

Could New York’s borders push the issue? Last week, members of the state Assembly held a hearing to debate the merits of cannabis legalization. Once Vermont and Canada’s

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Image via TheCrimsonRibbon

Nevermind Jeff Sessions’ latest announcement to rescind the Cole memorandum — state legislators are going ahead with cannabis law reform, nonetheless. In New York, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried recently introduced Assembly Bill 8904, which would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any serious condition.

Currently, New York’s medical marijuana program allows doctors to recommend cannabis for a limited number of conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, or AIDS. When the program first went into effect two years ago under the Compassionate Care Act, it was berated by activists as one of the most restrictive in the country. Initially, the law provided for just 10 conditions, only five vertically integrated medical marijuana companies, and no flower; over time, however, lawmakers like Gottfried, who initially drafted the legislation 20 years ago, have been working to expand the program.

“I have always opposed a restricted conditions list for medical marijuana,” Gottfried tells MERRY JANE. “No other medication has a statutory list of what conditions it may be used for because healthcare professionals, not the state, should make prescribing decisions.” The initial legislation Gottfried drafted never included a list of limited conditions until the Senate and the Executive Branch insisted on adding one as a condition of advancing the bill, he explains. Since then, the legislature has expanded the program to cover severe chronic pain and PTSD. Now the most recent bill Gottfried introduced is taking its final step towards allowing the medical marijuana program to be accessible for all patients who need it.

As it’s only the beginning of the legislative session, there’s little certainty the bill will pass. It took nearly twenty years since Gottfried initially drafted medical marijuana legislation, to begin with, for it to become law. But with the opioid overdose crisis in full swing, expanding the medical marijuana

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – One of the people looking to take Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s job says marijuana can help restore transportation systems across New York State.

Former Erie County executive Joel Giambra is calling for a legalization of recreational marijuana statewide.

He says the tax revenue that comes from marijuana sales can help with transportation infrastructure, including the New York City subway system and roads and bridges all over the state.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in eight states across the country.

News 4 reached out to the governor’s office for a response to Giambra’s plan.

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Rochester, N.Y. – A new group is pushing to make recreational marijuana legal in New York State.

“Roc NORML” held its second monthly meeting Monday night. Part of the meeting included a letter-writing campaign to state and local lawmakers, including the governor.

“Really, our purpose is to just educate the community and shift public opinion about cannabis in general,” said Roc NORML Executive Director Mary Kruger, “and really move toward having a fully-functional adult use recreational program here in New York.”

Just last week, Vermont’s legislature voted to legalize recreational marijuana. The state’s governor is expected to sign the legislation.

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra called for the “toughest, tightest-regulated” legalized marijuana bill in the United States on Monday, marking his first major policy announcement as a GOP candidate for governor.

At a press conference in Buffalo, Giambra promised billions of dollars in revenue for infrastructure as a result of the legalized marijuana industry, presented as a counter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s forthcoming budget announcement on Tuesday.

“I think that legalizing marijuana and using the revenues to create an infrastructure fund to deal with these problems,” Giambra said, “is a much more appropriate way to solve our problems than raising new taxes.”

However, Giambra did not describe an explicit plan for regulation or taxation of recreational marijuana, nor could he offer an exact dollar amount for potential revenue besides throwing around the term “billions of dollars”. The money raised through the marijuana industry, Giambra explained, could help pay for road and bridge repair upstate, as well as for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City.

Giambra appears to be the first Republican to publicly float a proposal for adult-use marijuana in New York state. A select group of Democrats have long supported bills for legalization in the state legislature, including Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo, but the most recent round of legislation in both chambers received zero Republican co-sponsors.

Eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana. The federal government in Canada is poised to legalize the drug as well.

“Adult use of marijuana is going to be happening all around us,” Giambra said, noting the examples of both Canada and the state of Massachusetts. “For New York state not to get serious about ending criminal activity and the black market underground economy makes no sense.”

It’s unclear if state

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During a discussion at a New York conference in October, Kevin Chen described something so esoteric, so innovative within the cannabis industry, that New Scientist later published a story about it.

‘Cellular agriculture will be much more efficient than growing plants.’

Kevin Chen, President of Hyasynth Bio

What Chen described was cellular agriculture, which uses genetic modification to craft products with certain amounts of specified cannabinoids. Proponents have been applying this process elsewhere to uncured meats, while innovators within the cannabis industry espouse another potential target: to efficiently develop products rich in THC, CBD or other cannabinoids, tailored to treat medical conditions and serve the recreational market with reliable, consistent ingredients.

The cannabinoid CBDV (cannabidivarin) has particularly received attention recently for its potential to treat patients with epilepsy, for example, via cellular agriculture. Traditional cannabis farming cannot yield enough CBDV, experts say, but cellular agriculture could.

“There’s enough groups working on this now that cellular agriculture is going to have a big role in this industry,” said Chen, president of Hyasynth Bio, a Montreal company that conducts cellular agriculture primarily for medical cannabis product development. “It is going to be that much more efficient than growing plants.”


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Cellular agriculture is a nuanced, complicated process. Defined by New Harvest (which held the October conference to discuss and promote cellular agriculture) as “the production of agricultural products from cell cultures,” experts compare cellular agriculture to the decades-old process of creating insulin.

Cultivators take the DNA of a specified cannabinoid and recreate it in a different form. To cultivate CBDV, for example, Hyasynth “added the chunk of cannabis DNA that codes for CBDV into yeast DNA, which turns the yeast into CBDV

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