New York Marijuana Legalization Proposals Get First Joint Legislative Hearing Of 2021

MJ moment

New York lawmakers on Tuesday held the first public hearing of the year on proposals to legalize marijuana, specifically focusing on budget implications. In a joint session with members of the Senate Finance Committee and Assembly Ways & Means Committee, legislators heard testimony from two pro-legalization industry representatives and one opponent, Kevin Sabet of the prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. Notably, despite their ideological differences when it comes to legalization in general, all three panelists were critical of the reform proposal that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) included in his budget request. NY Cannabis Growers and Processors Association President Allan Gandelman and NY Medical Cannabis Industry Association President Ngiste Abebe both said they favor a legalization measure out of the legislature—the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA)—arguing that its tax structure and social equity provisions are superior to the governor’s plan, even after Cuomo submitted amendments in hopes of shoring up support among skeptical lawmakers. “We deeply appreciate the possibilities offered in the MRTA. New York will need to balance issues involving taxes, licensing and speed to market,” Gandelman said. “The MRTA does an excellent job allowing for social consumption, cannabis home grow, microbusinesses, home delivery and funding for social equity applicants. These policies should be, without question, integrated into any final legislation enacted by the state.” Watch the joint public hearing on marijuana legalization in New York below:  Cuomo did propose amending his legalization plan to add a home delivery option and specify how social equity grants for cannabis businesses would be distributed—but advocates say it still falls short of the MRTA, sponsored by Sen. Liz Kreuger (D), chair of the Finance Committee. Abebe, who also serves as public policy director for Columbia Care, said that her organization believes “the governor’s proposal could be improved as well—and then, between…

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