Andrew Cuomo’s office has announced a series of “marijuana listening sessions”– and no, they won’t involve Dark Side of the Moon in quadrophonic sound. The governor wants to hear what you have to say.
Earlier this month it was announced that Cuomo had convened a workgroup– or as we prefer to call it, a joint committee– of academics, law enforcement officials, and commissioners at various state agencies who will draft recreational-marijuana legislation for Albany lawmakers to consider. Now the group wants to hear from potheads concerned citizens like yourself. To that end, Cuomo’s office has announced 15 listening sessions across the state, with the Manhattan one falling on Sept. 20 and the Brooklyn one on Sept. 25. Venues have yet to be announced (RSVP here to stay posted), but this much is certain: Sessions will begin promptly at 4:20pm. Just kidding, they’ll go from 6pm to 8pm.
According to the Brooklyn and Manhattan invites, topics up for discussion include how to maintain traffic safety, how to use the $248.1 million to $677.7 million in tax revenue that’s expected to be generated, how to make sure there’s help for problematic users, how to prioritize communities that have been hit hardest by criminalization, and what to do about the criminal records of those who’ve been convicted for illegal use.
Cuomo formed the workgroup after ordering a study that estimated that legalizing weed in New York State would have public health benefits, could reduce harm to consumers, is unlikely to significantly increase the current number of users, and would lower the state’s policing, trial, and imprisonment costs. The report recommended that New York limit the number of weed licenses, tax marijuana at 7 to 10 percent, and prioritize marijuantrepreneurs of color.
Naturally, legalization came up during last night’s gubernatorial debate. Governor Cuomo said “I do believe the benefits outweigh the risks– that was the conclusion of a panel of experts.” Nixon, in turn, criticized Cuomo for having called weed “a gateway drug” just last year.