On October 17, 2019, Governor Cuomo of New York, Governor Lamont of Connecticut, Governor Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania co-hosted the first Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit to create a set of uniform principles each state can implement through its adult-use legislation to standardize regulations across the region.
The summit resulted in an agreed-to set of core principles for rolling out adult-use legislation, including (1) market regulation and empowerment, (2) public health, (3) public safety and enforcement, and (4) vaping best practices. Also attending the summit were representatives from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Colorado.
Market Regulation and Empowerment
When creating adult-use legislation and regulation, the states will implement agreed-to guidelines to set cannabis tax structures and to ensure that social justice initiatives are key components of the legislation. The guidelines discussed include:
- Implementing social equity initiatives to ensure industry access to those disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs
- Maintaining awareness of the need to ensure a fair and competitive market by deploying strategies such as limiting the number of licenses or license types
- Implementing a similar overall tax structure for cannabis products between the four states
- Providing guidance to open up banking to the industry
- Implementing meaningful social justice reform such as expediting expungements or pardons and waiving associated fees.
Concerned that decreasing production costs might lead to inexpensive high-potency products, the four governors agreed to standardized product safety and testing requirements and impose restrictive advertising requirements to ensure youth are not targeted. These principles include:
- Prohibiting advertising and product forms that target minors
- Restricting advertising to audiences that are for the most part over the age of 21
- Banning adverting and products that appeal to youth, such as flavored cannabis products
- Restricting cannabis sales to purchasers over the age of 21
- Collecting and sharing cannabis use data to better understand public health outcomes
- Limiting the cannabis possession amount and limiting the overall THC content of products to discourage over-consumption and accidental overdose.
Public Safety and Enforcement
To help ensure highway safety and improve options for testing cannabis impairment in the field, the states agreed to the following guidelines:
- Uniform treatment of drug recognition expert evidence
- Uniform standard for blood or saliva tests
- Training for drug recognition experts
- Methods for sharing information on suspected “bad actions” in legal markets
- Law enforcement strategies to police the illicit market.
Vaping Best Practices
The states agreed to principles to regulate the entire vaping industry, including vapes containing nicotine, CBD and THC. Using the following guidelines, the states will share strategies and solutions for investigating illicit THC vape pens and regulating filler oils and carrier fluids:
- Banning or regulating the sale of flavored vapes to reduce use among youth
- Implementing vape product safety standards for nicotine and cannabinoids that include diluents, excipients and cutting agents
- Regulating temperature control for vape heating mechanisms
- Increasing enforcement actions to prevent sale to minors.
New York will aim to pass adult-use legislation during the 2020 legislative session, which begins in January. It is expected that Governor Cuomo will include a cannabis plan in his budget proposal, as he did last year.