By David Brand
Everybody’s doing it — or at least it seems that way. And now New York could be the next state to legalize marijuana.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s marijuana listening tour makes a stop at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, located at 153-10 Jamaica Ave. in Jamaica Monday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The listening series in the next step in a gradual process that may lead to legal pot. Officials from the governor’s office will visit 17 communities around the state.
"Community input is critical as we work to draft balanced and comprehensive legislation on a regulated marijuana program in New York," Cuomo said in a statement. "The multi-agency report identified the benefits of a regulated marijuana market, and with these listening sessions we are taking another important step to develop a model program for New York. We look forward to hearing what New Yorkers in every corner of the state have to say."
Though marijuana is all but legal in Brooklyn and Manhattan, where district attorneys refuse to prosecute low-level weed offenses, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown continues to prosecute marijuana possession and use.
“We will evaluate the arrests made by the NYPD and will proceed with valid cases — the vast majority of which are eligible for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal,” Brown told the Eagle in August. “We will continue to offer dispositions that are appropriate.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has also expressed his ambivalence to marijuana legalization.
Cuomo, however, has put New York on a path to emulate Colorado, Oregon and several other states that have already legalized marijuana.
In January, Cuomo commissioned a multi-agency study, led by the Department of Health, to assess the impact of a regulated marijuana program in New York State. The report, known as the Assessment of the Potential Impact of Regulated Marijuana in New York State, was submitted to Cuomo in July.
The assessment examined the health, economic, public safety and criminal justice impact of a regulated marijuana program in New York State and the consequences to New York State of legalization in surrounding states.
Based on the study’s findings, Cuomo formed the Regulated Marijuana Workgroup to provide advice to the State on legislative and regulatory approaches necessary to protect public health, provide consumer protection, ensure public safety, address social justice issues and capture and invest tax revenue.
The Workgroup includes subject matter experts from around the state as well as government representatives of public health, mental health, substance use, taxation and finance, law enforcement and public safety.
To attend the public hearing tonight, residents must register at https://bit.ly/2NsrTlU .