David Feldman

Cuomo Plans Multi-State Cannabis Coordination; Vape Ban on Hold

In comments last week, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for a multi-lateral meeting with his counterparts in neighboring states, including New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, to discuss legalizing adult use of cannabis. As reported by Politico, the Governor noted, “The federal government is doing nothing, what can we do? And what can we do together? Because it makes no sense to pass one set of rules in New York, where they can drive across the border to Connecticut and have a different set of rules and vice versa.” The Governor noted that he believes the states “can do more together than by working alone,” The group plans to meet on October 17.

A multi-state approach could have the benefit of harmonizing the approach to legalization but has the risk of enhancing the political challenges in achieving the goal of these states approving adult use of cannabis. New York and New Jersey both attempted and failed to pass adult use legislation earlier this year despite Democrat control of both state houses and legislatures. Both states’ Governors have indicated their desire to take up the measures again next year. Nearby Massachusetts approved legalizing  adult use in a 2016 referendum.

Separately, on Thursday this week a NY appeals court temporarily blocked Gov. Cuomo’s plan to ban flavored vaping products. The ban was set to begin yesterday. The temporary restraining order only puts the ban on hold for a week to allow vape companies to seek a more permanent injunction stopping the ban. Cuomo and his Health Commissioner have expressed significant concern about respiratory issues connected to vaping.

A  number of industry advocates believe that moving towards a legalized and regulated market for cannabis and vaping could be the most effective approach to the vaping issues that have arisen. Recent reports indicate that over 1000 people have been made sick apparently from vaping. The e-cigarette manufacturers have claimed the issues result from illicit products with additives that state-legal manufacturers generally do not add, but scientific conclusions have not yet been reached.