New York’s Governor Wants to Legalize Weed, But Doesn’t Want You to Smoke It

Big joint being smoked

[Canniseur: New York needs to take a lesson from Florida’s dabble at keeping smokable cannabis out of the market place. Smoking flower is the most prevalent method of consuming. Outlawing it is just not acceptable. The Governor needs to get educated on the subject of cannabis.]

After a year of flip-flopping on whether or not he supports legal weed, Governor Andrew Cuomo has suggested a bizarre compromise where weed would be legal, but smoking it would not.

For a minute, it seemed like 2019 would be the year when New York finally got around to legalizing marijuana, but state legislators managed to drop the ball — yet again.

Next year, lawmakers will take up the legalization debate afresh. But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that next year’s adult-use bill could come with one extreme caveat: weed might be legal, but you might not be allowed to smoke it.

During an interview with MSNBC last weekend, the governor explained that his administration is “not in favor of smoking marijuana,” and noted that there are other “ways to get THC without smoking marijuana,” according to Marijuana Moment. “People are vaping THC, yes that is true… We think that from a public health point of view, that is not something that we recommend and we think it’s dangerous — smoking of any kind.”

“You can legalize marijuana and sell THC in compounds that do not require you to smoke the marijuana, and we do not support smoking of marijuana,” Cuomo continued. “There are compounds that have the THC, which is a compound in marijuana, that you don’t smoke.” 

The governor stopped short of saying whether or not he would actually propose a ban on all smokable cannabis next year, or was simply reiterating his administration’s disdain of smoking in general.

Cuomo’s spokespeople have not indicated whether the governor would actually push for a ban on smokable cannabis, and it is even less certain that state lawmakers would agree to his proposal if he did. The governor did try to convince lawmakers to ban smokable cannabis from the state’s medical marijuana program, however. And he also advocated for a ban on home cultivation in this past year’s adult-use bill. So, there’s that.

What is certain, however, is that a ban on cannabis flower would undermine the state’s ability to have a thriving, legal adult-use market. In California, flower and concentrate sales account for a whopping 70 percent of the state’s entire legal weed market, which indicates that a non-smoking market would be significantly less profitable than a market that includes smokable flower. The popularity of cannabis flower would also likely keep the state’s black market alive, allowing illegal growers to easily compete with a limited range of legal products.

Governor Cuomo’s stance on cannabis reform has been anything but consistent. As recently as 2017, the governor still called pot a gateway drug, but after his challengers in last year’s election advocated for legal weed, he jumped on the legalization bandwagon. But once New Jersey’s push to legalize adult-use this year failed, Cuomo’s support waned, and the adult-use bill failed.

This August, the Empire State decriminalized minor cannabis possession and will now allow former offenders to clear their records. But the fate of full legalization remains as much of a hazy mystery as ever.

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