Has New York State legalized cannabis? Last week the State’s Cannabis Control Board approved regulations that bring it closer to recreational adult-use sales.
Regulators approved a licensing program that legislators proposed earlier this year. The plan has the first round of retail licenses for applicants with past cannabis-related convictions. New York State is the first State to do this.
And it’s a far cry from how other jurisdictions have tackled the issue. In Canada, for example, the government swept the case of expunging past convictions under the rug. Former cops and politicians were cashing in on legal cannabis, asking the government to bar individuals with past convictions. Even four years later, there haven’t been any significant moves north of the border.
When New York State legalizes cannabis, the devils will be in the details.
New York State Legalizes Cannabis: Details
An applicant for the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license must provide proof they, or a family member, have been convicted of a cannabis-related offence sometime in the last year. The offence will have to have taken place in New York State.
Unfortunately, this step in the right direction is met by usual government barriers. Applicants must also have at least two years’ experience owning a profitable business. Critics say this is a back door to further discrimination, particularly among people of colour who bear the brunt of cannabis convictions.
And it makes sense – if you’ve had trouble with the law all your life based on your upbringing and surroundings, legal cannabis offers a road to redemption. But New York State bureaucrats have already cut these people out. It’s not enough to have a passion for the industry. It’s not even enough to have some capital to prove you can do something with that passion. No, according to taxpayer-dependent pencil-pushers, you already have to be an established business owner.
Limiting entry to established business owners is crony-capitalist and not what free markets are about.
And it isn’t surprising considering the other discriminatory practices of New York State. Covid vaccine mandates prevented many people from entering restaurants or going to the gym. And since most of New York’s unvaccinated were African-Americans (a demographic that rightfully has trust issues with the government), New York’s vax-mandate policy was effectively racist segregation.
New York State Legal Weed When?
Expect the application process to go online next month. The New York Office of Cannabis Management says it’ll notify everyone 14 days before the application window opens.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul is still promoting the “Seeding Opportunity Initiative,” which claims to prioritize those impacted by the war on drugs. And while offering retail licenses to those with cannabis convictions is a step in the right direction, regulators have offset it with other bureaucratic hurdles.
Like most things in life, actions speak louder than words. And so far, New York State’s cannabis actions are dismal. Cannabis Control Board chairwoman Tremaine Wright said, “We’re leading with equity in this state.” But is this true?
Equality means individuals have the same opportunities. If New York’s cannabis laws strived for equality, everyone would be free to succeed or fail based on their own ingenuity.
Equity means that, since each person has different life circumstances, the State should step in and allocate resources to ensure marginalized people are given the same opportunities as non-marginalized people.
Definitions, of course, are provided by the State with intellectual backing from the taxpayer-funded Universities.
Nevertheless, the process for New York legal cannabis is underway. Expect recreational adult sales by the end of the year, possibly by Thanksgiving.
What About Medical Cannabis?
New York’s Cannabis Control Board is also changing the medical program. They’re streamlining patient registration processes. The State is also revising its packaging, labelling, marketing and advertising rules to align with the new recreational regulations.
New York State Legalizes Cannabis: Rules
New York’s new rules on cannabis include:
- Child-resistant packaging
- Labels to spell out warnings, serving sizes, potency, ingredients, and usage and storage instructions
- A universal THC symbol
- No appealing to anyone under 21 (no labels with cartoons, celebrities, etc.)
- You can’t inform the consumer if the product is organic. No health claims. Also, you are not allowed to use the term “craft.”
- The Cannabis Control Board must approve graphics/labels.
- Products cannot emit scents or sounds.
In some ways, New York State’s legalization scheme is shaping to be stricter than even the most strict jurisdictions. Despite their “Seeding Opportunity Initiative,” the devil is in the details. And the details don’t look good.