The state took another step toward legalizing marijuana on Thursday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the formation of a work group tasked with drafting legislation.
The governor’s decision comes less than a month after the state Department of Health endorsed legalizing recreational use of the drug, citing a 6-month-long multiagency analysis that showed the benefits outweigh the risks.
“The next steps must be taken thoughtfully and deliberately,” Cuomo said in an emailed statement Thursday. “As we work to implement the report’s recommendations through legislation, we must thoroughly consider all aspects of a regulated marijuana program, including its impact on public health, criminal justice and state revenue, and mitigate any potential risks associated with it.”
The work group, overseen by Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David, will consist of “individuals with specialized knowledge,” including experts on public safety, economics and health as well as leaders of relevant state agencies, according to the governor’s office. The group also is expected to work with leaders of the state Legislature, lawmakers who have previously sponsored legislation related to medical and recreational marijuana regulation, academic experts and advocates.
The legislation will be introduced to state lawmakers during the next legislative session, which will begin in January 2019.
Cuomo’s announcement comes just one day after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s new policy not to prosecute most marijuana possession and smoking in public cases went into effect. On Sept. 1, the NYPD will begin to issue summons instead of arresting most New Yorkers caught smoking pot in public.