This week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been spearheading an effort to coordinate marijuana policy in a region irreversibly moving toward recreational legalization. Neither New York, New Jersey or Connecticut have so far managed to push a legalization bill through their respective Legislatures. But Cuomo views that as an opportunity to develop consistency across the tri-state area’s eventual legalization policies. Multiple issues related to legalizing recreational cannabis would be on the table, from age requirements, taxation, packaging requirements, THC potency limits and restrictions on product types to criminal justice measures like expungement.
Cuomo first announced his interest in working alongside New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on September 24. And after an initial meeting with Gov. Lamont on September 25, Cuomo announced plans for an October 17 summit where all three tri-state governors will hash out a unified approach to legalizing cannabis for adults.
Govs. of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut To Meet for Mid-October Weed Summit
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t think it makes much sense for neighboring states to have different marijuana laws. “It’s counterproductive,” Cuomo said during a Long Island News Radio interview. “People drive across the border, they buy a better product, or they buy a cheaper product, or they buy marijuana with more THC, or they buy marijuana that comes in a different form, and now you have people driving and possibly smoking marijuana at the same time.”
But while coordination and consistency may make sense from a regional perspective, Cuomo seems to be using it to spread his views on product bans and restrictions to other states. Commenting on the recent vape-related national health crisis—Cuomo authorized a 90-day ban on flavored e-cigarettes last week—the New York governor floated the idea of banning cannabis-infused gummies. Around the same time, Cuomo also spoke out harshly against smoking or vaping cannabis, suggesting he might push for a ban on smokable marijuana products when lawmakers draft another legalization proposal in 2020.
Both bans are exactly the kind of policy decision that would likely isolate New York from neighboring legal-weed states, creating the cross-border issues Cuomo cited in his Long Island Radio interview. “These are the kinds of issues we’re going to have to think through,” Cuomo explained in a Tuesday interview with WNYC. “To the extent that we can have coordination with the other states it would be better.” So far, neither Gov. Lamont or Gov. Murphy have signaled any intent to ban gummies or smokable cannabis products.
Cuomo Wants Legalization Proposal Ready by January 2020
After meeting with Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont seemed to concur that a coordinated approach to crafting cannabis legalization was a smart move. “A patchwork of laws won’t be effective when you can go over the border to a state with a totally different policy,” Gov. Lamont tweeted after the meeting. “Governor Cuomo really has been forceful in saying this is something we want to do together,” Lamont said.
Following the Wednesday meeting, both Lamont and Cuomo announced plans to host a regional summit on October 17 to develop recreational marijuana policy guidelines. Interestingly, neither governors’ tweets about the October summit mentioned New Jersey or Gov. Phil Murphy. “NY & CT are better off when we work together,” Cuomo tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Cuomo hopes the meetings help produce a coordinated approach not just on cannabis legalization, but also on vaping and e-cigarettes. For Cuomo, the objective is to have a legalization proposal ready to deliver to the New York Legislature at the start of next year. Cuomo has said he’s making recreational cannabis legalization a priority for his administration in 2020.