Now that recreational marijuana is legal in New York, the state’s first Cannabis Control Board had its initial meeting Tuesday.
A big focus of the first meeting was repairing harm done to communities of color who have primarily been the target of cannabis criminalization. But the five board members said little about tough decisions ahead, including how to curb driving under the influence.
“Creating a framework for legalization grounded in social equity, restorative justice, and sustainability. This really sets New York’s law apart from all the other states that have legalized,” said Jen Metzger, a former New York senator who represented parts of Orange and Ulster counties. She said she promises to advocate for rural communities like these.
Before the board discussed recreational marijuana, its first order of business was expanding medical marijuana access.
“Any practitioner who has a license to prescribe a controlled substance is able to certify medical patients,” said board chairman Tremaine Wright.
Now there’s no longer a $50 fee to get a medical card. Patients can get double the amount of marijuana than before. And one can now buy whole flower cannabis, which is a cheaper option.
“I think it offers huge opportunities to our farmers, including small farmers, young farmers, historically underrepresented farmers, and farmers who’ve been struggling economically,” Metzger said.
“Increase employment and strengthen New York’s agriculture sector. Reduce the illegal drug market and reduce violent crime,” Wright said.
The board still has more work to do, like addressing driving under the influence, which has no current reliable test.
The board’s next step is to launch a public education program.