Regulatory Rollout Stalled
While the Marijuana Recreation and Taxation Act (MRTA)
legalized adult-use marijuana when Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law on
March 31, the process to stand-up the regulatory agencies responsible for
drafting and enacting new industry regulations—the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management—is
stalled. The New York State Legislature ended its session on June 10 with no
appointments to either entity and the governor and legislative leaders at odds over
who should lead the agencies. Until the agencies are up and running and the
100+ bureaucrats are hired to write the thousands of pages of regulations,
adult-use marijuana grow, distribution, and retail sale are only theoretical.
Can New York still launch a recreational marijuana market by the spring of
"There's still time, but that time is running real thin. I mean you really want to see appointments done by the end of [June]," Kaelan Castetter, vice-president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association, told David Lombardo, host of WCNY’s “The Capitol Pressroom.” Given all the work still to be done—political appointments, regulation writing, public comment, license application process—it’s hard to imagine the first adult-use dispensaries opening before July 2022, possibly later.
Joints for Jabs
Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board has authorized licensed adult-use marijuana retail shops to give away a single pre-rolled joint to anyone over 21 who gets a COVID-19 shot at an on-site vaccine clinic in its Joints for Jabs program.
Towns Exploring MRTA Opt-Out Provisions
Municipalities have until December 31 to opt out of allowing cannabis retail shops in their cities and towns. Some local leaders, like Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano, said he’s against allowing dispensaries and smoking lounges in his city, while Newburgh Mayor Terrence Harvey supports the opening of cannabis businesses in his city. "I think people should be responsible and do things with caution of course," Harvey told the Times Herald-Record. "Just like alcohol, be responsible and don't drive when intoxicated." Other local leaders, like New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers and Kingston Mayor Steve Noble, have also expressed support for cannabis businesses in their communities. In municipalities that do pass opt-out laws, residents can petition for a referendum to veto the bans.
Connecticut Legalizes Adult Use
Governor Ned Lamont signed SB 1201—“An Act Concerning the Equitable and Responsible Regulation of Cannabis”—into law on June 22, ending a multiyear fight to legalize weed in Connecticut. Starting July 1, adults 21 and over will be allowed to possess up to one-and-a-half ounces in person and up to five ounces at home. Legal sales are anticipated to begin by May 2022, which would likely bring Connecticut dispensaries online before New York’s. Home grow will begin on July 1, 2023. As in New York, equity applicants are slated to receive 50 percent of the licenses, and 75 percent of the tax revenue will go toward community reinvestment and equity efforts.
The War on Drugs, 50 Years Later
On June 15, 1971, Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs. Fifty years later, statewide decriminalization and legalization movements across the country are continuing to gain momentum: Adult-use marijuana is legal in 19 states; medical marijuana is legal in 36 states. On the federal level, however, weed and many other drugs are still classified as Schedule 1 drugs. Democrat Representatives Cori Bush of Missouri and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey introduced legislation to Congress on June 15 to decriminalize the personal use of all Schedule 1 drugs like weed, ecstasy, LSD, and more. Like New York’s MRTA, the Drug Policy Reform Act would also seek to end the drug war’s negative impact on society through a variety of social equity reforms.