- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2019

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he plans to discuss marijuana legalization with counterparts in neighboring states to ensure they are on the same page moving forward.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said during a radio interview that he intends to talk about legalizing recreational marijuana during upcoming meetings with the governors of Connecticut and New Jersey.

“Everyone is talking about legalizing marijuana,” Mr. Cuomo said on Long Island News Radio. “Jersey’s talking about it, New York’s talking about it, Connecticut’s been talking about it. For one state to do it, it makes no sense if the neighboring state has a totally different policy because you then just incentivize people to drive over the border and buy it there, right?”

“We are serious in this state about legalizing recreational use of marijuana, but it has to be done right and protected, and I want to start with Connecticut and see if there’s not an openness to come up with common parameters on a policy,” Mr. Cuomo said later during the interview. “Otherwise, it’s counterproductive, as I said before, people drive across the border, they buy a better product, or they buy a cheaper product, or they buy marijuana with more THC, or they buy marijuana that comes in a different form, and now you have people driving and possibly smoking marijuana at the same time.”

Mr. Cuomo said he plans to discuss legalization with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday and later with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, both fellow Democrats, the Marijuana Moment news site first reported.

A spokesperson for Mr. Lamont subsequently confirmed the governor planned to discuss marijuana legalization while meeting with Mr. Cuomo this week.

“They have discussed the issue broadly and decided that an in-person meeting made the most sense,” Max Reiss, Mr. Lamont’s director of communications, told The Washington Times. “Governor Lamont supports legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and wants to ensure any proposal that comes before the Connecticut General Assembly is thoughtful and collaborative. Connecticut and New York share borders, which is why it makes sense for them to have similar policy on an issue like this.”

A representative for Mr. Murphy’s office did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

Marijuana is federally prohibited on account of being classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, but most states have enacted laws legalizing its use to varying degrees, creating a patchwork of differing laws in place from coast to coast.

New York, Connecticut and New Jersey are among 33 states and D.C. that have passed laws legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, though neither are currently included in minority of states to legalize recreational, or “adult use” marijuana. Only 10 states and the nation’s capital have enacted laws legalizing recreational marijuana, including seven where adults can legally purchase pot from licensed and regulated dispensaries: Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.

The Empire State nearly legalized recreational marijuana during the most recent legislative session, but lawmakers ultimately recessed in June without reaching a deal.

“I want to make sure that we have as a major priority in next year’s legislative session, legalizing recreational marijuana,” Mr. Cuomo said during a separate interview Tuesday on WNYC, Marijuana Moment reported. “And to the extent practicable I want to see if we can coordinate with the other states because, by definition, we put together one system, New Jersey puts together another system, Connecticut puts together a third system—I don’t want competition or shopping if we can avoid it among the systems.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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