Gov. Cuomo’s recreational marijuana plan: Will regulation make use safer?

State News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes adult-use recreational marijuana as a way to generate revenue, some New Yorkers question if the costs outweigh the benefits.

“Everybody acknowledges what’s happening with marijuana legalization stands to make billions of dollars,” said Will Jones, Communications and Outreach Associate at Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Gov. Cuomo hopes legalization will help fill the state’s $15 billion deficit by making an estimated $350 million in revenue a year.

However, Jones said the money wouldn’t be worth the harm it would cause residents.

“We have seen the impact of an addiction for-profit commercialized recreational drug industry in our country. We have that with alcohol, we see that with tobacco,” said Jones. “Regulating is a misleading term for what’s happening with marijuana; what’s really happening is commercialization.” 

Conversely, the State’s 2018 Assessment on Potential Impacts of Regulated Marijuana states that “The positive effects of regulating an adult (21 and over) marijuana market in NYS outweigh the potential negative impacts.”

“The fact of the matter is, millions of New Yorkers are using cannabis every single day in New York. So, by offering them a safe, tested product, you are going to increase public safety,” Kaelan Castetter, CEO of Empire Standard, said.

Cuomo’s proposal said that regulation would offer the opportunity for “stringent quality and safety controls” and “invest in research.”

Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins, the lead professor of SUNY Morrisville’s agricultural hemp program, would be involved in Cuomo’s proposed research.

“When we’re looking at adult-use—so, we are getting into higher THC varieties—we want to know, can we predict the exact amount that’s going to be there. So that the products that are being sold to the public have a level of consistency them,” Gilbert-Jenkins said. 

Castetter said this kind of research into the plant combined with the regulation would lead to a better understanding of how different doses will affect someone.

“I think data makes everything better,” said Gilbert-Jenkins.

Jones agrees, and further research is the “route that needs to be taken” however, research shouldn’t have to go hand-in-hand with legalization.

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