New York, NY – Below is a statement from Melissa Moore, New York Deputy State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, in response to the regional summit convened today by the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey to discuss a joint approach to cannabis legalization for adult use. The governors cited the lack of action at the federal level driving the need for leadership at the state and regional level. 

“Prohibition does not work, period. It has destroyed lives through inequitable enforcement of dated laws that disproportionately harm communities of color and has also failed to reduce use, instead doubling down on the illicit market and leading to unregulated cannabis use.

Instead of harming communities through biased enforcement, by regulating and legalizing marijuana for adult use we can better serve public health, community well-being, and equity. The revenue generated by bringing marijuana out of the shadows and into a licensed and regulated market should be used for reinvesting in communities who have suffered greatly as a result of inequitable enforcement through job training, youth development programs and other resources. It could fund education efforts to better protect our kids and to ensure responsible adult usage. It could incentivize small businesses and family-sale farmers, encouraging entrepreneurial efforts in small towns and rural areas, as well as disproportionately impacted communities.

Today’s summit — driven by Governor Cuomo, Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Heastie, Senator Krueger, and Majority Leader People-Stokes — is happening not a moment too soon. We are hopeful the outcome will help to catalyze responsible legalization in New York, allowing our state to serve as a model for comprehensive marijuana reform across the greater region. The time to act is now and New York has the opportunity to show the country what equitable and just legalization looks like.” 

Background

In his opening remarks, Governor Cuomo reiterated that New Yorkers support legalization and recommitted to the need to end marijuana prohibition and regulate use. Further sessions at the summit covered vaping, market regulation and social justice, public health, public safety, and best practices from states that already have legal access.

New York is well positioned to pass the most progressive legalization legislation in the country, and the renewed commitment of the Governor in addition to participation in today’s summit from New York’s legislative leaders Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie, as well as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act sponsors Sen. Liz Krueger and Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, signals that passing marijuana reform is a pressing priority for the upcoming legislative session.