Update: New York Cannabis Legalization April 2019

Jeff Klingman

The hopes for quick and tidy cannabis legalization in New York stalled out in March, as Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed ahead a yearly budget that left weed behind.

And the primary reason for the delay? Disagreements over how to split up all the potential tax revenue from cannabis sales, according to some reports.

Still, April saw headway being made in smaller legislative steps at the city level.

No more THC drug tests for employment

New York City lawmakers are pushing pot forward, with or without statewide legalization.

On April 9th, the City Council passed a bill that will prohibit employers from requiring drug testing for THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, for their potential workers. Further, the council okayed legislation that bans NYC from mandating marijuana testing for citizens who are currently on probation.

This is in addition to a March resolution that ensured expunged records for anyone convicted on a misdemeanor marijuana charge would be part of any eventual bill that legalizes, taxes, and regulates cannabis.

Progress for medicinal pot smokers

Nationally, the Democrat-led House of Representatives is making moves on behalf of marijuana that will benefit New Yorkers, too.

Medical marijuana patients are currently prohibited from using cannabis in public housing, due to a federal ban. Some states have made special exceptions for medical marijuana patients, and some administrators for the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development have been given leeway to apply common sense judgment on a case-by-case basis.

(Neither helped 78-year-old John Flickner from being evicted from his federally subsidized home in Buffalo last December, because of vaped marijuana he used to treat chronic pain).

If passed, the “Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act of 2019” could keep New York State patients like Flickner in their homes. Whether it can pass a more conservative Senate and be implemented by HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, who’s spoken out against legalization in the past, is very much in question.

Taken in full though, this broad suite of measures mark a huge step towards erasing the stigma around cannabis use, acknowledging that people might be cannabis users and productive citizens and employees at the same time.