Last Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared in a speech outlining his 2019 legislative priorities that New York State would fully legalize and regulate recreational cannabis in 2019. The governor said this step would help to end the “two criminal justice systems; one for the wealthy and well-off, and one for everyone else.”
“And that’s going to end,” he told a cheering Manhattan crowd. “We must end the needless and unjust convictions and the debilitating criminal stigma and let’s legalize the adult use of recreational use of marijuana once and for all.”
Governor Cuomo said as recently as 2017 that cannabis is a “gateway drug”. However, after an extensive health department study – which found that benefits of taxation and regulation outweighed potential harm – and a series of townhall-style listening sessions around the state, he has since come around to support cannabis legalization.
New York State will be the second largest and most populous state to fully legalize cannabis, after California. This designation, and the states status as the media and financial capital of the U.S, could certainly affect the national debate on legalization.
To get a better idea of the magnitude of influence that New York state wields in terms of cannabis legalization, I reached out to three executives of industry companies based entirely or partially in New York State to hear their immediate thoughts:
“I am delighted by Governor Cuomo’s announcement regarding his intention to legalize recreational cannabis next year. This is a prescient disposition, as it acknowledges the clear national trend toward legalization of recreational cannabis. As a former resident of New York City, and the Managing Partner of a law firm with an office in New York City, I am absolutely delighted by this news.”
— Tom Zuber, Partner and Founder of Zuber Lawler & Del Luca, a corporate law firm with 10+ years experience helping businesses and entrepreneurs in the cannabis space.”
“Cuomo’s announcement for New York cannabis legalization and regulation in 2019 is a big deal for the people of New York. It’s also a big deal for cannabis legalization momentum. With a GDP of $1,500.055 billion and a population of 19,745,290, New York is a state with a lot of influence. I believe that soon after state legalization is in full swing, we will see huge changes in surrounding states and on the federal level towards more cultural, economic, and legal acceptance of this plant.”
— David Goldstein, CEO of Potbotics, a mobile app that gives medical information to patients. It focuses on cannabinoid levels and terpene profiles for strains and can connect patients to appropriate doctors.
“Governor Cuomo’s embrace of cannabis — at long last — suggests that educational efforts about cannabis are working. We applaud Governor Cuomo’s recognition of what New York voters clearly want: legal cannabis. New York’s huge influence nationally may hasten other states’ legalization, as well as federal legalization…which we now view as inevitable.”
— Charles Finnie, Chief Strategy Officer of MariMed, Inc. (OTCQB: MRMD), a multi-state cannabis organization that develops, owns and manages cannabis facilities and manufactures, licenses and distributes top brands and innovative products