The Big Lobbyist Battle for Medical Reefer in New York Begins


New York has had the whole medical marijuana conversation for a while (end result: fail), and legalizing marijuana, if only for medical purposes, has its twists and turns here. Even with the rollback of the Draconian Rockefeller drug laws by Cuomo, being the world capital of weed arrests sure doesn’t help. But it seems as if change might be in the (smoky) air.

After Election Day, with residents in Colorado and Washington now able to toke up tort-free and Massachusetts clearing the way for doctored weed, the pressure is now on for marijuana decriminalization to be a sensible revenue-based discussion across the nation. And those invested in the green industry know this — hence why, according to a report yesterday in the New York Post, Big Marijuana (the name now given to the toking titans) is pulling out the big guns for Albany.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a lobbying war in the works. Let’s take a look at the fighters involved.

One of the big clients on the medical marijuana side is the firm known as Patricia Lynch Associates. Lynch, a former aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and her team of legislative provocateurs stumped for the Marriage Equality Act, the measures against texting and driving, the Racino in Yonkers, and a handful of other testy topics that have gone through the capitol. Now, it looks as if medical marijuana will be their next goal to tackle.

The Big Marijuana’s argument has remained steady over the years: $1 billion in additional revenues, a shit ton of new jobs, countless medical benefits, and, hey, crime-stricken weed trade taken off the streets and into the public (regulated) domain. Also, neighboring states New Jersey and Connecticut have implemented similar statewide programs. And who could forget about California? (The DEA sure hasn’t).

These lobbyists will pit themselves against two major (and powerful) enemies: law enforcement and Governor Cuomo.

This week, an investigation done by the Los Angeles Times reported that prescription drug overdoses now double the overdoses caused by cocaine and heroine combined. For this reason, drug officials are afraid that medical marijuana will unleash an epidemic of unsafe use at a time when that’s the last thing we need.

“We are now coping with the epidemic of prescription-pill addiction and cannot afford another disaster caused by the highly abused ‘remedy’ pushed by Big Marijuana,” NYC Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan told the Post. Is this “Big Marijuana” title really catching on?

This is a view partially shared by Cuomo as well. Earlier this year, he expressed his doubts about the pros and cons of this argument: “I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point.”

However, if we’re looking at all the players here, then we have to include the player that binds this all together: ourselves, the New York voting populace. Sixty percent of New Yorkers are in support of this measure; a number that puts Cuomo into a hard political position akin to Obama pre-“I’ve changed my views on same-sex marriage.”

Oh, and, of course, the New York State Medical Society. Yeah, the doctors who would prescribe/supply you guys with reefer are on Big Marijuana’s side, too.

And the battle has only begun.