Cannabis Wire report
New York State lawmakers held a joint legislative budget hearing yesterday to discuss Governor Cuomo’s proposed legislation for the legalization of adult-use cannabis. Senators and Assembly members raised a number of questions about the proposal, the majority of which were about licensing, equity programs, and how legalization for recreational use could affect the state’s five-year-old medical program.
Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-141) raised concerns about the number of out-of-state companies aiming to gain a foothold in New York’s recreational market. “I live in Buffalo because I represent that district, and literally for the entire year of ‘19, I would say there’s been at least two or three meetings a week with potential investors from California who come to my office,” said Peoples-Stokes. “I understand what they see: There’s an opportunity here, a big opportunity. But at the same time, I need to make sure we’re protecting New Yorkers’ interests to be in business. How do you propose to do that?”
Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David, who fielded most of the questions yesterday, said the legislation aims to reduce barriers of entry in two ways: first, by prohibiting vertical integration, or when a single company controls its own cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail operations. While New York’s medical cannabis program permits vertical integration, the proposed legislation would prohibit the practiceso as to increase the number of available licenses, thus providing more opportunities for those disproportionately affected by prohibition to enter the legal market. “We’ve broken up that structure in order to ensure that more people can participate in this new industry,” David said.