New York lawmakers prefiled eight medical marijuana-related bills for consideration in the upcoming legislative session.
Seven of those were filed in the Assembly with the other prefiled bill introduced in the Senate. The proposed bills cover a range of issues facing qualifying medical marijuana patients in New York, including tenants’ rights as cannabis users and health insurance coverage for medical marijuana.
Here’s a quick rundown of the eight prefiled bills:
A00040: Calls for research into tax and banking practices concerning the state’s medical marijuana industry, with a subsequent report to be completed by January 16, 2022.
A00127: Seeks to expand the definition of ‘cannabis caretaker’ for a medical marijuana patient to include workers acting on a patient’s behalf in settings such as hospitals and mental health institutions.
A00169: Aims to remove the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis treatment and instead accept a physician’s professional opinion on whether marijuana is an appropriate therapeutic approach.
A00184: Provides for regulatory changes to ‘normalize’ the operations of medical marijuana business in New York.
A00242: Seeks to elevate medical marijuana to the status of “prescription drug” eligible for health insurance coverage.
A00413: Adds dysmenorrhea – pain caused by menstrual cramps – to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana treatment.
A00531: Removes the “serious” qualifier from conditions as a requirement for medical cannabis treatment, and doubles the permitted purchase limit of medical marijuana from a 30 to 60 day supply.
S00183: Ensures qualifying medical marijuana patients can’t be evicted from their home solely on the basis of using cannabis.
Medical marijuana reform is far from the only cannabis-related business happening in the Empire State, with neighboring New Jersey’s recent decision to legalize adult-use marijuana likely weighing heavily on the minds of New York lawmakers. One senator described marijuana legalization as an “inevitability” in New York following New Jersey’s vote to legalize cannabis. When asked about this by WAMC’s Alan Chartock, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo conceded “the pressure will be on” to legalize marijuana in 2021. He then said the health and economic crisis precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic could make it easier to pass legislation to legalize marijuana.
For his third State of the State address in a row, Cuomo confirmed his administration will legalize adult-use marijuana in the upcoming year. His previous attempts at passing the measure through the annual state budget failed, mainly over disagreements on how to tax sales and allocate revenues.
While it remains unclear how these differences will be resolved, it appears the political will to get marijuana legalization over the line in New York will ensure some kind of compromise is found in 2021. Following November’s election, Cuomo may well need to compromise on his preference to have a legal marijuana market in New York that favors big industry players such as MedMen. Senate Democrats now hold a supermajority meaning they can potentially override the governor’s veto if he were against certain provisions in a marijuana legalization bill approved by the legislature.