New York State Bar Backs Cannabis Legalization

The New York State Bar has formally offered approval of legalizing adult-use cannabis in the state; the governor has already included legalization revenues in his 2021 executive budget.

Full story after the jump.

The New York State Bar House of Delegates has approved a resolution in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in the state. The association’s Committee on Cannabis law recommends that the reforms include state taxes, social equity, environmental protections, advertising and marketing regulations, municipal opt-out options, U.S. Department of Agriculture-mandated testing, and the creation of an Office of Cannabis Management.

The report also suggests that state officials would benefit from recruiting the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit global policy think tank, or similar organization to analyze a legalization policy. The association notes that the RAND Corporation has been used by other states looking to legalize adult-use cannabis.

The organization’s opt-out policies suggest that counties or cities that opt-out of cannabis sales would not get a cut of the tax revenues derived from the industry – which is the case in other states that have legalized cannabis. The report points out that the town of North Hempstead in Nassau County has already passed local legislation to prohibit adult-use cannabis sales. The town of Islandia in Suffolk County has promised to sue the state if it legalizes cannabis statewide.

The association recommends that the state look to the six most recent states to legalize cannabis when drafting its social equity provisions and suggests commissioning “an outside research entity like RAND” to help guide those rules.

“We recommend that New York not adopt any specific social equity provisions until this analysis is complete, but that such efforts should not prevent comprehensive regulation of legalized adult-use cannabis.” – New York State Bar Association, in the resolution

The Bar Association suggests that the social equity provisions include business incubator programs, hiring requirements, earmarking of tax revenues for communities most impacted by the War on Drugs, and prohibiting “local or state government from discriminating against licensing applicants on the basis of their substance-use treatment history, or convictions unrelated to honesty.”

The report also backed the American Bar Association’s 2019 resolution calling for cannabis’ removal from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has included cannabis legalization as part of his 2021 Executive Budget.

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