After a meeting with the governor of Connecticut on Wednesday, Sept. 25, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said states are working together to regulate recreational marijuana and vaping products.
Cuomo said states are getting a lot of confusion and a lot of debate -- but no leadership -- from Washington on those and other issues.
“So, if we’re on our own, let’s hook our boats together and let’s see if we can find our way through this storm,” said Cuomo, who also wants to work with New Jersey on vaping and marijuana.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont already has been working with the governors of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
After meeting privately at Lamont’s official residence, the pair announced there will be a meeting of regional partners on Oct. 17 to discuss ways states can come up with some common details for a possible legalized recreational marijuana program, such as taxation rates and what forms of marijuana should be sold.
Cuomo plans to have new recreational marijuana legislation ready by January. Lamont may offer a bill when Connecticut’s General Assembly returns in February.
Lamont said the summit would also address guidelines for vaping oversight.
Attempts to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana have stumbled in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“I think if we focus on the core program — what would a legalization of recreational marijuana system look like? What are the rules and regulations of that system and how do we police it? And are we prepared to do that? I think that’s the mission for this discussion,” Cuomo said.
Lamont said he hopes the governors can also work with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, whose state has already legalized recreational marijuana. On Tuesday, Baker ordered a four-month halt to sales of all vaping products and devices.
Lamont said it’s important all the states in the region don’t “surrender to the black market” and have systems that are carefully regulated and safe.
“I think we want to do it in a very thoughtful basis,” said Lamont, who has made a point of meeting with other governors in the region since taking office in January.
Both Lamont and Cuomo expressed concern Wednesday with the safety of vaping. Health officials nationwide are investigating hundreds of cases of serious breathing illnesses in people who use e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.
Earlier this month, state health officials in New York approved temporary, 90-day emergency regulations, which can be extended, to ban the sale of most flavored electronic cigarettes, with the exception of tobacco and menthol favors.
While a proposal to ban certain vaping flavors in Connecticut failed this year, the state passed legislation prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products to anyone under 21. The new law takes effect on Oct. 1. It also raises the age to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21.
Lamont said, "Every day thousands of New Yorkers travel over the border to work in Connecticut, and thousands of Connecticut commuters rely on New York for their livelihood. To that end, it's common sense for our states to be aligned in numerous policy areas. Governor Cuomo and I have the chance to be leaders together on these issues of public importance, and that's exactly what we're going to do."
In July, Cuomo signed legislation decriminalizing marijuana use in New York state.
Earlier this month, Cuomo announced that New York is the first state in the nation to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine e-liquids.The state Department of Health will provide retailers in New York with a two-week grace period before conducting visits to enforce the flavoring ban beginning on Friday, Oct. 4. Local health departments and the Department's District Offices, with State oversight, will handle enforcement. New York retailers who violate the ban will face fines of up to $2,000 per violation, which is defined as each unit of flavored e-liquid or product containing e-liquid that is possessed, manufactured, sold or offered for sale.