POT ‘LISTENING SESSIONS’ BEGINS

How do New Yorkers feel about legalizing recreational marijuana? Governor Cuomo has set up a series of 15 “listening sessions,” to get the word on weed.

Aired on September 6, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> JUST LAST YEAR GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO OPPOSED LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL POT GOING AS FAR AS CALLING MARIJUANA A 'GATEWAY DRUG,' SINCE THEN AND FILE FACING A TOUGH PRIMARY CHALLENGE FROM CYNTHIA NIXON, THE GOVERNOR HAS SWITCHED COURSE.

LAST MONTH AFTER A STATE SUDDEN WHICH HE COMMISSIONED CONCLUDED THAT THE POSITIVE IMPACTS THIS A REGULATED MARIJUANA PROGRAM WOULD OUTWEIGH THE NEGATIVES, THE GOVERNOR ANNOUNCED A TEST CREATING A FAMEWORK FOR LEGALIZATION.

AS PART OF THAT TASK FORCE, THE CUOMO ADMINISTRATION IS SENDING OUT A LISTENING TOUR TO GAUGE HOW NEW YORKERS FEEL ABOUT POT.

THE FIRST WAS IN ALBANY.

DAVID LOMBARDO WAS THERE AND HE JOINS US NOW.

DAVID, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

WHAT ARE THE LISTENING TOURS MEANT TO ACCOMPLISH?

SO THE 15 LISTENING TOURS THAT THE STATE'S WORKING PANEL IS CONDUCTING IS SUPPOSED TO COME UP WITH LEGISLATION THAT THE LEGISLATURE WILL CONSIDER IN JANUARY.

THEY'RE HEARING FROM SUPPOSEDLY AVERAGE NEW YORKERS ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO CENA RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA SYSTEM OR WHAT THEY DON'T WANT TO SEE WITH REGARDS TO MARIJUANA.

AND THEORETICALLY THAT'S ALL GOING TO BE THROWN TOGETHER AND PUT TOGETHER FOR A PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT COMES OUT IN JANUARY WHEN ALBANY LEGISLATORS COME BACK.

YOU WERE THERE YESTERDAY, AS I MENTIONED, WERE MOST OF THE PARTICIPANTS FOR OR AGAINST LEGALIZING POT?

OF THE APPROXIMATELY 30 OR SO SPEAKERS, IT WAS MOSTLY A PRO-LEGALIZATION CROWD.

THERE WAS A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE WHO RAISED CONCERNS ABOUT THE ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA.

BUT FOR THE MOST PART IT WAS A CROWD THAT SAW THIS AS A REALLY POSITIVE OPPORTUNITY, A CHANCE TO ADDRESS CRIMINALIZATION ISSUES, A CHANCE TO ADDRESS THE OPIOID CRISIS, AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE SOME MONEY TOO FOR THE STATE.

SO THOSE WERE ALL THE ISSUES.

WERE THERE ANY OTHER KEY ISSUES BROUGHT UP YESTERDAY?

A LOT OF RECURRING THEME WAS THE WAY THIS COULD REPLACE OPIOIDS.

ALTHOUGH NEW YORK HAS EMBRACED A MEDICAL MARIJUANA SYSTEM SINCE 2014 IT WAS REALLY NARROW AND IT'S GROWN A LITTLE BIT SINCE THEN.

BUT A RECURRING THEME WAS ACTUALLY HOW WE NEED TO DO MORE ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA DURING THIS HEARING, I GUESS YOU'D CALL IT, AND PEOPLE ARE SAYING THAT HOPEFULLY IN THIS PROCESS MARIJUANA WILL BECOME CHEAPER AND MORE ACCESSIBLE FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED IT FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES.

AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, THERE SEEMS TO BE A POLITICAL CONNECTION OR A POLITICAL ELEMENT TO WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE.

I'M SHOCKED THAT YOU --

AT LEAST CYNTHIA NIXON SAYS THERE IS.

IS THERE?

MY STARS.

SO JADED AND CYNICAL.

I JUST -- WOW.

WELL, THIS ISSUE REALLY BECAME SOMETHING THAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT STARTING IN JANUARY WITH THE GOVERNOR'S STATE OF THE STATE WHEN HE BASICALLY SAID I WANT TO COMMISSION A STUDY TO LOOK AT THIS.

AND SO TO HIS CREDIT THAT'S A FEW MONTHS BEFORE NIXON JUMPED IN THE RACE.

SINCE THEN IT KIND OF BECAME A THING THAT NEW YORK IS GOING TO HAVE LEGALIZED MARIJUANA.

NO ONE WAS SURPRISED IN JUNE WHO YOU KNOW HOWARD ZUCKER WHO SAID THE STUDY WOULD SAY PRO-MARIJUANA, BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE CONS.

NIXON AND HER DEFENDERS SAY THIS IS ALL PART OF THE #CYNTHIA EFFECT AND THAT IT'S THE GOVERNOR TRACKING TO THE LEFT AND THAT IT'S NO SURPRISE THAT THE GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES LISTENING TOURS JUST WITHIN A MONTH OF WHEN HE AND NIXON ARE SUPPOSED TO SQUARE OFF IN A PRIMARY.

AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION LAST YEAR HE CALLED IT A GATEWAY DRUG.

HE'S NOT ALONE IN SAYING THAT.

SOME EXPERTS SAY THAT.

WHEN WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF AN OPIOID CRISIS, DID THAT COME UP IN THE FIRST LISTENING TOUR, AN ISSUE WORTH TALKING ABOUT?

IT WASN'T SO MUCH THAT IT WAS A GATEWAY DRUG, OR THAT IT WOULD TRANSITION PEOPLE TO OTHER MORE SERIOUS DRUGS, THE REAL CONCERN, RAISED BY A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE -- THERE ARE ADVERSE EFFECTS TO MARIJUANA, DRUGGED DRIVING COULD BE AN INSTANCE OF A REAL NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCE.

THOSE PEOPLE ALSO SAID, THOUGH, IF YOU ARE GOING TO EMBRACE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA AT LEAST PUT AN AGE LIMIT, AND THEY SUGGESTED 25.

SO WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE LISTENING SESSIONS, DAVID?

WELL, WE HAVE 15 LISTENING SESSIONS, INCLUDING SOME ALL OVER THE STATE.

AND WHAT I ANTICIPATE IS GOING TO HAPPEN IS IN LATE DECEMBER, THE GOVERNOR, WHEN HE'S PUTTING OUT ALL OF HIS STATE OF THE STATE PROPOSALS IN ADVANCE OF THE STATE OF THE STATE AND JUST REALLY OWNING THE NARRATIVE, ASSUMING HE IS REELECTED, WE'RE GOING TO SEE A BILL PROBABLY ROLL OUT IN ONE OF THOSE PRESTATE OF THE STATE PACKAGES.

AND MAYBE IT WILL BE TUCKED INTO THE BUDGET BECAUSE THAT REALLY IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR HIM TO EXERT HIS MUSCLE AND REALLY GET WHAT HE WANTS.

SO YOUR BEST GUESS, COME NEXT YEAR, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE LEGALIZED MARIJUANA, AND IF WE DO, WHAT DOES THAT LEGISLATION LOOK LIKE?

I THINK ONE OF THE FACTORS THAT WE NEED TO LOOK FOR IN TERMS OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA AND WHETHER IT IS ACCOMPLISHED IS THE STATE SENATE.

IT'S CURRENTLY CONTROLLED BY SENATE REPUBLICANS WHO HAVE SHOWN REALLY NO APPETITE FOR THIS.

THEY'VE BEEN CALLING IT A GATEWAY DRUG.

THEY'VE BEEN FINED WITH MEDICAL MARIJUANA.

BUT IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE THEM, IF THEY CONTROL THE CHAMBER, OF GOING ALONG WITH THIS.

SO I WOULD SAY THAT IT'S GOING TO BE A REAL TOUGH FIGHT IN 2019 IF THEY CONTROL IT.

IF IT'S SENATE DEMOCRATS I THINK IT'S A DIFFERENT STORY.

I THINK THERE'S A REAL APPETITE FOR THIS, AND I THINK THAT WE'LL SEE LEGISLATION, MOST LIKELY TUCKED IN THE BUDGET.

WHAT THE FORM LOOKS LIKE, I THINK THAT IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO SEE FROM HERE.

I MEAN, ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES IS A BIG COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION, IS IT SMALL GROWERS?

THAT WILL ALL BE WORKED OUT IN THE LISTENING SESSIONS.

DAVID, WELL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY AND TALKING ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

I APPRECIATE IT.

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