The study would explore recreational legalization’s health effects, economic impact, criminal justice impact and how recreational legalization by some of New York’s neighbors would affect the state.
— Massachusetts voters passed a recreational marijuana law in 2016, and the market is supposed to launch later this year
— New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wants his state to pass adult-use cannabis, and lawmakers are poised to pass a bill soon.
— Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is expected to sign a recreational MJ bill that the legislature passed earlier this month.
Those states’ momentum toward recreational marijuana helped fuel New York’s desire to conduct a study on adult use, budget director Robert Mujica told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
The study would be undertaken by the New York health department and other state agencies, according to news reports
The Democrat & Chronicle noted that Cuomo insisted on “many of the restrictions” on the MMJ program and that the governor has been hesitant to ease the state’s adult-use laws.
Eight states and DC have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and it is legal for medicinal use in 29 states. Customers in North America are expected to spend more than $10 billion on legal marijuana in 2018 and nearly $23 billion by 2021 according to the ArcView Group, a cannabis-focused research and investment firm.
On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the revocation of the Cole memo. The Cole Memo directed US Attorneys to use discretion to prioritize certain types of violations in prosecuting cannabis operators, but, strictly speaking, it did not make operations in cannabis legal. Under Sessions' new guidance, US Attorneys retain broad prosecutorial discretion. Supporters of medical marijuana hope that regulated activity that is legal under state law will not distract prosecutors from serious violations of federal law.
The Colorado US Attorney issued the following statement: "Today the Attorney General rescinded the Cole Memo on marijuana prosecutions, and directed that federal marijuana prosecution decisions be governed by the same principles that have long governed all of our prosecution decisions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions -- focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state. We will, consistent with the Attorney General’s latest guidance, continue to take this approach in all of our work with our law enforcement partners throughout Colorado.”