Marijuana Legalization & Regulation

The New York City Bar Association, through the work of its Drugs & the Law Committee, supports the creation of a system for the production, distribution and adult non-medical use of marijuana in New York State. The Drugs & the Law Committee was formed in 1986 to research and analyze why the criminalization of drug use, manufacture, and distribution had neither solved nor ameliorated the problems associated with the manufacture, distribution, possession and use of drugs. In the intervening 32 years, the Committee has extensively studied U.S. drug policy, consistently finding that the societal costs of drug prohibition are too high to justify. After significant study, the City Bar has endorsed the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”), sponsored by Senator Krueger and Assemblymember People-Stokes (A.3506-B/S.3040-B), as a model for how New York could adopt a marijuana regulatory scheme. 

This dedicated section highlights our efforts to issue reports, conduct programs, advocate legislation and otherwise work toward implementing a regulatory scheme for the adult recreational use of marijuana in New York State.  It is intended to be a resource to educate our members and the public about an important policy issue facing New York. To view materials, click on the left side menu: "Reports" for related City Bar reports; "News" for related press releases, blog posts and media coverage; "Events" for upcoming events; "Resources" for past event recaps/audio and related bill and hearing information; and "Of Interest" for relevant studies, data and outside organizations working on this issue.



End New York's Marijuana Prohibition - Advocacy Handout 

Letter to Governor's Workgroup to Draft Legislation for Regulated Adult Use of Marijuana from the Drugs & the Law Committee, December 11, 2018


Cannabis on the Horizon: Cannabis Legalization in New York City
November 1, 2018

Re-legalization of cannabis for general adult use in New York City has never been closer, but how ready is the most populous metropolitan area in the United States - and the country’s largest urban cannabis market for commercial manufacture, delivery, home cultivation and over-the-counter sale of cannabis? This panel discussion examines the legal and policy changes that will be necessary in order to make a safe and orderly transition from a criminal market to a viable regulated market. Click Here for Event Audio & Video

Changing Marijuana Laws' Effect on the Workplace
October 22, 2018

Program on how the evolving treatment of marijuana under the law affects the workplace. Learn how legalization of medical and recreational marijuana affect rights and obligations under the ADA, FLMA, and more.  Click Here for Event Recap & Audio

What's New in New York City Cannabis Policy
November 10, 2015

A panel discussion of current events in this uncharted area of law. Click Here for Event Recap & Audio

Regulating Marijuana: What New York Can Learn from Other States
May 21, 2015

This forum explores the inconsistencies between federal, state, and local cannabis law, and their effect by asking whether states and municipalities can influence higher levels of government and, if so, how. Click Here for Event Recap & Audio

The Future of Marijuana Law in New York City 
January 28, 2015

An expert panel discusses the past, present and possible futures of marijuana law in New York City. The panel was moderated by Touro Law Center Dean and Professor of Law Patricia Salkin, a land use expert, and featured Stephen Levin and Jumaane Williams, both City Council Members from Brooklyn, and Nitin Savur, Deputy Chief of the Trial Division of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.  Click Here for Event Recap & Audio 

New York City’s Marijuana Arrest Policy
April 30, 2008

In 1977, New York State decriminalized possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. Nonetheless, researchers report that New York City is now the national leader in detaining individuals for possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. Discussion of the costs and benefits of New York City’s marijuana possession arrest policy. Click Here for Event Details

Medical Marijuana in New York
February 7, 2007

Discussion of proposed medical marijuana legislation for New York and the growing body of cases addressing the conflict between state and federal law. Click Here for Event Details


A.3506-B (M. of A. Peoples-Stokes) / S.3040-B (Sen. Krueger) - Enacts the "marihuana regulation and taxation act" (NYS 2018)

New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Health, Governmental Operations, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Public Hearing "Allowing adult use of marijuana" - October 16, 2018 (Click Here for Hearing Agenda & Video)


Colorado Department of Public Safety, Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: Early Findings, A Report Pursuant to Senate Bill 13-283 (March 2016)

Esther K. Choo, et al., The Impact of State Medical Marijuana Legislation on Adolescent Marijuana Use, 55 J. OF ADOLESCENT HEALTH 160-66 (2014)


Drug Policy Alliance - New York Office

Empire State NORML

Start SMART New York