The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) will on
Friday consider a report from the NYSBA Committee on Cannabis Law supporting the
legalization of adult recreational marijuana use in New York.
The report from the committee outlines suggested strategies
for the implementation of legalized cannabis in New York State, and will be
considered at NYSBA’s House of Delegates meeting in New York City Jan. 31 as
part of the association’s Annual Meeting.
“The New York State Bar Association’s Cannabis Law
Committee supports the legalization of adult use cannabis in New York State,” said
Aleece Burgio (Barclay Damon), who co-chairs the committee with Brian J. Malkin
(Arent Fox) and will present the report to the House of Delegates.
“The committee believes that a comprehensive
cannabis proposal that includes hemp, medical marijuana and adult use is the
most effective way to navigate this complex issue while policy continues to evolve
at the federal level,” Burgio continued. “Our report offers guidance to New
York’s governing bodies surrounding safety, research, social equity, taxation,
and other principles critical to success.”
In its detailed 23-page report, the committee
said it was not aware of a single jurisdiction that has passed model cannabis
regulation and legalized adult-use that would be appropriate for New York to
adopt in total.
However, the committee noted that the nonprofit,
nonpartisan RAND Corporation has been commissioned by several state
legislatures for comprehensive advice and analysis prior to developing their
legalized cannabis use legislation and believes New York would similarly
benefit by commissioning RAND or a similar organization to conduct such a study
The report also recommends that any New York
legalized marijuana use legislation include:
- USDA mandated cannabis testing
- A comprehensive state Office of Cannabis Management
- Provisions for local municipality “opt-out”
- Social equity provisions
- State tax
- Advertising and marketing guidelines
- State environmental protections
The committee also endorses an American Bar
Association resolution that would resolve a conflict between federal and state
law by exempting marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act for
production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana carried out in compliance
with state laws.
Under the Compassionate Care Act of 2014, only New
Yorkers with prescriptions from qualified medical providers to treat a limited
number of ailments may legally use marijuana.
During the last legislative session, state
lawmakers proposed various bills that would have legalized adult recreational
marijuana use in New York. No such legislation passed, but legislators
compromised by decriminalizing marijuana. Possession of up to two ounces or
less is now merely a violation.
In the meantime, many states in close proximity to
New York, as well as its neighbor to the north, Canada, have already legalized
the use of recreational marijuana or are in the process of doing so. The debate
in the Empire State is sure to continue, as the sponsors of recreational
legalization bills have already pledged to reintroduce them in the 2020-21
NYSBA’s Committee on Cannabis Law will continue to
monitor the evolving legal status of marijuana at both the state and federal
level. In addition to offering top-quality cannabis law continuing education
and resources for its members, the committee hopes to be a resource for New
York lawmakers and federal legislatures to help set the highest possible legal
and business standards for legalized cannabis products.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar
Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since
1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the
legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers
through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Dan Weiller