New York, Connecticut and New Jersey Move Forward on Marijuana Together

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to meet with officials in bordering states to discuss a way to move forward on legalization that would discourage competition.

As neighboring states New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey all move forward with plans to legalize recreational cannabis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he wants to see coordination between state leaders to come up with a common program.

Cuomo (D) has said that he intends to meet with Connecticut state officials and then officials in New Jersey in order to “arrive at some kind of commonality” in marijuana programs.

“I want to talk to Connecticut, and then I want to talk to Jersey, about having a regional symmetry on vaping products and marijuana,” Cuomo said during an interview on Long Island News Radio.

For one state to do it, it makes no sense if the neighboring state has a totally different policy, because you then just incentivize people to drive over the border and buy it there.

The governor spoke about legalization coordination during a Sept. 24 interview on WNYC New York Public Radio.

“I don’t want competition or shopping if we can avoid it, among the systems,” he said during the WNYC interview.

THC levels, age restrictions, and volumes of product were all areas brought up by Cuomo during the interview as intended points of discussion between states.

Cuomo said New York and New Jersey are familiar with working together through the state’s Port Authority, and that he had spoken to Governor Ned Lamont in Connecticut and Lamont voiced interest in cannabis discussions.

Cuomo on Cannabis

Once opposed to legalization, the New York Governor shifted his stance on recreational cannabis while running for reelection in 2018. Since the change in attitude towards cannabis, Cuomo has made clear his intentions to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, and in Aug. 2018 he formed a task force to draft a bill legalizing recreational cannabis.

In July, Cuomo signed into law a bill to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis. The new law also offers residents with past low-level cannabis convictions an expungement of records. According to estimates, past records of around 24,400 individuals could be erased under the new law.

New York legalized medical marijuana in 2014 with the passage of the Compassionate Care Act (Assembly Bill 6357). The state currently has nearly 105,000 patients registered in its medical marijuana program.

Connecticut and New Jersey Marijuana Laws

While the majority of Connecticut voters and the state governor supports full marijuana legalization, recreational use cannabis remains illegal. Support for major reform has been voiced by state legislators, but the issue has not been put to vote.

Connecticut does permit marijuana for medical purposes. Former Gov. Dannel Malloy signed House Bill 5389 into law in 2012 legalizing medical marijuana for adults in the state. Then in 2016, Malloy signed into law a bill expanding the medical marijuana program to patients under 18.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy has stated his commitment to legalizing recreational cannabis many times since taking office in 2018. Although he announced plans to have full legalization by Jan. 2019, state lawmakers failed to come up with a plan they could agree on.

Like Connecticut, New Jersey does have a medical marijuana program in place. Senate Bill 119 was approved to legalize medical marijuana in New Jersey in 2010. The program had a slow start with a two-year stall before patient registration opened. Murphy signed an executive order in 2018 to review the state’s medical marijuana program.

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