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New York, New Jersey and Others Coordinate Unified Marijuana Legalization Plan

by Sarah Cawthon October 30, 2019

Governors from four Northeastern states met Thursday, October 17, 2019, to collectively reach preliminary agreements regarding unified plans for their states’ cannabis policies.    

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for a marijuana summit to discuss building cohesive cannabis policies for the region. The reasoning behind this decision was largely rooted in the desire for smooth interstate travel — a common happening for residents in the Northeast. 

The summit ultimately proved successful with the four governors examining regulation, public health, law enforcement and vaping best practices as well as agreeing to a tax structure and the best course of action for safety and advertising restrictions. The four governors showed they were able to reach agreements on a plan that considers the entire region rather than focusing solely on their individual states. 

“I think we’re much stronger when we work together and that’s what this meeting is all about,” said Gov. Cuomo, adding, “We are serious in this state about legalizing recreational use of marijuana, but it has to be done right.”

And he may be right. Separately, each state has been working on individual policies and efforts to legalize with little success. However, their coordinated efforts might be what’s needed to garner the necessary support to legalize. 

New York’s legalization efforts failed to move forward after state leaders were unable to reach a consensus on several key points in the final days of the legislative session. However, the state was still able to pass a measure that decriminalized marijuana possession.

Similarly, when it became apparent that legalization efforts were not likely to pass before the legislative session ended earlier this year in New Jersey, Gov. Murphy decided to focus his efforts exclusively on amending and expanding the state’s medical marijuana program rules instead. 

Connecticut’s state legislature has continuously refused to vote on the issue in recent years. While the chances of a possible vote seemed better in the last legislative session, it was declined once again. 

In Pennsylvania, shortly after legalization legislation failed to materialize earlier this year, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman completed a 93-day tour across all 67 counties to hear public opinion regarding recreational marijuana legalization in the state. According to a report from the tour, a majority of 68% of the attendees were in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. 

The governors’ meeting was truly a first of its kind in uniting a region in order to develop cohesive policies rather than relying on the patchwork style state model that has been previously used throughout the country. The efforts from this summit could result in more states working together to create a more unified system overall. 

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