As New York State gets closer to establishing a commercial marijuana market, members of the New York City Council are introducing numerous cannabis-related resolutions to shape that program.
On Wednesday alone, council members filed 10 resolutions and two bills concerning marijuana reform.
There’s one resolution calling on the legislature to pass, and the governor to sign, a bill that gives cannabis licensing priority to individuals disproportionately harmed by the drug war.
Another resolution demands legislation that “remedies disparate burdens placed on people of color in the enforcement of marijuana prohibition” by setting up a reinvestment fund for those communities. That resolution, introduced by Council Member Daneek Miller (D), currently has six sponsors.
Miller also introduced a resolution calling for federal cannabis reform. It states that Congress should pass, and the president should sign, the Marijuana Justice Act—a bill that ends federal prohibition and penalizes states where cannabis enforcement is unfairly executed.
Several pieces of legislation filed in the council seek to change drug testing policies. For example, Council Member Jumaane Williams (D) introduced a proposal that would prohibit most employers in New York City from conducting pre-employment drug tests for cannabis. The measure makes exceptions for certain jobs, like those in the security or transportation sector.
We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less.
As we move toward legalization, it makes no sense that we're keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use.
— Jumaane Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) February 13, 2019
“We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less—and as we move toward legalization, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use,” Williams said in a press release.
Another proposal would ban the city’s probation department from drug testing individuals for marijuana.
Some of the resolutions concern more technical matters. Council Member Francisco Moya (D) called on the state government to reclassify THC and other “marijuana-based products” as the “equivalent of flower marijuana,” for instance.
Others are designed to give individual jurisdictions more regulatory authority. One endorses allowing localities to prohibit public consumption, another asks for New York City agencies to have the ability to regulate marijuana licensing and another seeks to let the city “enact its own regulatory measures on issues unique to its location including the home delivery and cultivation.”
Four council members signed onto a resolution that pushes the New York City Administration for Children’s Services implement a policy stipulating that the possession or consumption cannabis “does not by itself create an imminent risk of harm to a child, warranting the child’s removal.”
Taken as a whole, the flurry of cannabis-related legislation signals that the City Council expects the state to approve adult-use marijuana legalization sooner rather than later—and that its members want to make sure their voices are heard in advance.
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.