Efforts to legalize medical marijuana are heating up again in New York.
The state Assembly will hold public hearings on the issue next month in Buffalo and Mineola as lawmakers try to build support for a bill to legalize medical cannabis.
Legalization in New York would be a huge win for the industry.
For one, it would open up a sizable new market. New York is home to nearly 20 million people, ranking as the third-largest state in the country. Even if the list of qualifying medical conditions is somewhat limited, the patient base could exceed 100,000.
It would also bring medical marijuana to the nation’s financial hub, increasing awareness of the industry among those with money. Investors might be more willing to fund cannabis companies if MMJ is present in their backyard.
Under the proposed bill, the state would set up a network of licensed non-profit or for-profit dispensaries and cultivation sites, subject to strict oversight.
The Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of medical marijuana legalization earlier this year, and many insiders felt the Senate would sign off on it too.
But the Senate didn’t bring the bill up for a vote before the session ended in June.
This time could be different. Several independent Democrats – including Sen. Diane Savino, who is behind the MMJ bill – now share control of the upper House, according to Syracuse.com. That could give the bill the momentum it needs to clear the Senate.
Additionally, public opinion is soundly on the side of medical marijuana, not just in New York but also across the country.
The big question is what Gov. Andrew Cuomo will do if a legalization bill reaches his desk. He has stated his general opposition to medical marijuana legalization but also recently said he would keep an open mind.
The upcoming public hearings will be held on Dec. 5 at Buffalo City Hall and on Dec. 18 at Nassau County Legislative Chambers.