Pesetsky & Bookman, The Alliance's legislative and general counsel, has been closely following the developments in Albany as state lawmakers debate legalizing recreational marijuana. They've provided us with this update:
There has been a great deal of buzz about legalized marijuana in New York, and Alliance members have been asking questions. At this point, the discussion in Albany is no longer over if marijuana should be legalized, but what the legalized marijuana system will look like. While the finer details of the regulatory structure remain undecided, a broad outline is coming into shape. Here is what appears to be certain so far:
- A license will be required to sell marijuana, and a marijuana-focused bureau of the State Liquor Authority will be responsible for regulating licensees.
- The laws and regulations for marijuana licensing will be very similar to those for alcohol, including a variation on the alcohol three-tier system.
- There will likely be some licenses that allow for on-premises use of marijuana, but the rules governing those businesses are still being debated.
Lawmakers have suggested that establishments that have on-premises liquor licenses will not be eligible for on-premises marijuana use. The Alliance has pushed back on that suggestion, especially relating to edible forms of marijuana, by noting that New York City hospitality businesses are already very experienced in handling alcohol, an age-restricted intoxicant; and that New York City's world-renowned culinary scene boasts fine dining chefs and mixologists who would be poised to move well beyond simple edibles such as brownies or cookies.