New York State legislative leaders released a budget containing only essential line items pertaining to the operations of the state in response the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, state lawmakers refrained from including marijuana legalization as a part of the budget.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana New York (SAM NY) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration released the following statement in response:
“Lawmakers in Albany have responded swiftly to the ongoing issue related to the COVID-19 outbreak and have wisely chosen to focus on the betterment of New Yorkers and the protection of public health and safety. As we have said previously, the consideration of marijuana legalization and commercialization during this outbreak is unconscionable and extremely shortsighted.
“A multitude of parents, doctors, treatment professionals and leaders in minority communities have raised their voices in unison against rushing commercialization through Albany as a part of the budget process. And while at this time this may be the least of their concern, it is encouraging for all of us New Yorkers that there is one less threat to public health for the time being.
“The marijuana industry has a record of targeting and victimizing low-income and minority communities. Taking a slower, science-based approach to understanding the impacts on mental health, addiction, public safety and vulnerable populations is the right thing to do.
“We must all come together to face the COVID-19 crisis head on and dedicate all resources to mitigating the impact this pandemic will bring upon our state and our nation as a whole.”