Governors Hold Summit on Regional Approach to Cannabis and Vaping Legislation

October 18, 2019 by Dan McCue

The governors of five northeastern states came together for a summit on Thursday to discuss the outlines of a joint regional approach to cannabis and vaping policies.

“This issue is complicated, controversial and consequential. It is probably one of the most challenging I’ve had to address in New York, and it’s a challenge for all the states,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who co-hosted the event with several of his counterparts.

“The goal of this summit is to collaborate with one another, share resources and think collectively as we all try to figure this out,” he said. “The federal government is supposed to get involved in issues that go beyond one state’s borders, but that is not happening on any issue facing the country.

“The states are on our own, so we are working together to find regionally coordinated solutions to protect the public health,” Cuomo added.

The other governors participating in the Regional Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit were Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. All of the participants are Democrats. 

They were joined by legislative leaders and other officials from their respective states, and following the summit the governors released a set of core principles on issues related to market regulation and empowerment; public health; public safety and enforcement; and vaping legislation best practices.

“Whether it comes to the emerging public health issues surrounding vaping and e-cigarettes, or the use of marijuana, permitting the illegal market to run unregulated, which is what is currently happening, is neither safe nor is it in the best interests of all our residents,” Gov. Lamont said.

“Cooperating as a coalition of states on these issues is the best path forward—as we not only share borders, but we share economic interests, public health priorities, and a joint understanding that the more states that work together on these kinds of issues, the better the policy results will be for our residents,” he said. “On these issues and more, when states work together collaboratively, carefully and thoughtfully we can create better policies.”

Gov. Murphy agreed, pointing out that while states can obviously go it alone when grappling with a public health issue, “these actions will be strengthened and magnified when we know there is a similar strategic approach in … other states.

“Our impact is much greater when we break out of our own silos as individual states and collaborate on the tough issues plaguing our region and nation. Together, we can ensure that these challenges are met with thoughtful, comprehensive action for those who live and work in our region,” he said.

MARKET REGULATION AND EMPOWERMENT

A number of summit participants spoke of the challenges of financial services for state-licensed medical marijuana businesses because of the Federal Controlled Substance Act. Noting that so long as it remains difficult to open and maintain bank accounts, the state-legal marijuana industry will largely rely on cash to conduct business and operate, which results in public safety issues and creates unique burdens for legal marijuana businesses.

The governors agreed to a series of principles to setting a cannabis tax structure, as well as best practices to ensure communities have access to the new industry.

Among other things, the states agreed to move forward in identifying best practices with regard to the basis for taxation, implementation stages and dynamic market-based controls for cannabis production and cultivation; supporting a fair and competitive market architecture as cannabis regulations are adopted; encouraging a stable regional market by identifying and implementing a similar overall effective tax rate for cannabis products; incorporating tax mechanisms, such as weight based, potency based, and/or mg/thc based, to ensure price stability for licensees and that the price of cannabis does not fall to a point that increases access and use beyond current usage rates; providing positive guidance to their state chartered financial institutions with respect to cannabis-related banking services; and prioritizing small and diverse businesses’ participation in the cannabis industry;

The governors also vowed to support and advocate for the passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would provide clarity and remove disincentives for existing financial institutions to service cannabis-related businesses. The Safe Act was passed by the House in September.

 PUBLIC HEALTH

The governors agreed to a series of principles regarding product safety and testing of cannabis products; best practices for safety and contamination; and availability and advertising of products, focused on restricting access to and advertising aimed at youth users and vulnerable populations.

These guidelines include enacting restrictions for cannabis and vaping product forms, packing, advertising and characteristics that target minors; prohibiting advertising that promotes overconsumption and targets youth; restricting sale of products to adults 21 and over and imposing strict penalties on licensees that sell to youths; enacting requirements that all cannabis products must be contained in child-resistant packaging; regulating cannabis products and enacting restrictions in a manner that safeguards public health, limits over consumption and discourages the spread of cannabis use disorder.

“It’s imperative that we focus on bringing the conversation about cannabis into the open and making sure there is proper regulation,” Gov. Wolf said.

When we establish a marketplace for cannabis, social justice and empowerment initiatives must be considered,” he said.

VAPING

Officials testifying before the governors said e-cigarette use among young people is staggeringly high.

In 2018, 1.5 million more students used e-cigarettes than in 2017, and high school electronic cigarette use in 2018 was 78% higher than it was in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control has said.

The governors agreed to ban or more tightly regulate the sale of flavored vape products to reduce the product’s attractiveness to youth; implement vape product safety standards for nicotine, CBD and other cannabinoids; regulating temperature control, including the heating mechanisms of vaporizers; increase enforcement actions for unauthorized sales to individuals under 21 years of age; and restricting advertisements to ensure products are not targeted to minors.

Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo said in the absence of federal leadership, the governors had to come together and take a regional approach to vaping and cannabis regulations.

“The principles we’ve agreed to today will allow us to better coordinate our efforts as we address some of the most challenging issues facing our states. Through this partnership, we will work together to protect families from the dangers posed by the illicit cannabis market and vaping,”  she said.

State News

Hundreds of Uncounted Votes Discovered in Pa. in Local Township Election Local Elections
Hundreds of Uncounted Votes Discovered in Pa. in Local Township Election

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Northampton County election officials on Tuesday uncovered more than 200 votes that had not been part of the initial tally, affecting the result of the Lower Saucon Township Council race and adding to the problems the county had in tabulating votes on election... Read More

San Francisco Elects an Underdog as Next DA State News
San Francisco Elects an Underdog as Next DA

When Chesa Boudin learned he had won a tight race to become San Francisco’s new district attorney, he was flying home from a visit with his father at a prison in upstate New York. Boudin was 14 months old when his left-wing activist parents were incarcerated... Read More

Ohio Judge Rules In Favor of Late-Jailed Voters Voting
Ohio Judge Rules In Favor of Late-Jailed Voters
November 8, 2019
by Dan McCue

A federal judge in Ohio ruled the state must discontinue its practice of disenfranchising eligible voters who are arrested and held in pre-trial detention in the final days leading up to an election. The case has its roots in the 2018 midterm election. Just days before... Read More

North Carolina Governor Vetoes Voting Restrictions, Restores Saturday Voting State News
North Carolina Governor Vetoes Voting Restrictions, Restores Saturday Voting
November 8, 2019
by Dan McCue

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill earlier this week that would have removed foreign citizens from voting rolls. At the same time, he signed into law a bill that restores early voting on the last Saturday before elections. “Only citizens should be allowed to... Read More

Republicans Urge Bevin to Provide Proof of Election Fraud or Concede State News
Republicans Urge Bevin to Provide Proof of Election Fraud or Concede

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A growing number of Republican lawmakers are urging Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a fellow Republican, to either provide evidence of the voting “irregularities” he has alleged or concede Tuesday’s election to Gov.-elect Andy Beshear, who defeated him by 5,189 votes. “The best thing... Read More

City Moves Toward Ban on Conversion Therapy for LGBTQ Youth State News
City Moves Toward Ban on Conversion Therapy for LGBTQ Youth

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Kansas City took a step Wednesday toward becoming the second city in Missouri to ban conversion therapy for minors following more than an hour of emotional testimony from a packed room of LGBTQ residents and advocates. Conversion therapy, often associated with religious groups, is... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top