As New York hurtles toward the opening of its new legal recreational marijuana market, the state is apparently “scrambling to develop a way to measure when motorists are driving while under the influence of cannabis since there’s no current standard or valid testing.”
That is according to a report on Sunday in the New York Post, which said that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration has issued a call for a mechanism to spot weed-impaired drivers.
“With the legalization of adult-use cannabis, there are concerns of increased incidences of driving while impaired after cannabis use,” the New York Department of Health said in a proposal, as quoted by the Post.
“Identifying drivers impaired by cannabis use is of critical importance…..However, unlike alcohol, there are currently no evidence-based methods to detect cannabis-impaired driving,” the memo continued.
The news comes amid budding anticipation for the launch of New York’s first regulated adult-use marijuana retailers. According to the Post, New York is expected to award “up to 175 retail licenses to sell marijuana in the coming weeks.”
Hochul said last week that the state remains on track to launch the new regulated cannabis market by the end of this year.
“We expect the first 20 dispensaries to be open by the end of this year,” Hochul told the Advance Media New York editorial board. “And then every month or so, another 20. So, we’re not going to just jam it out there. It’s going to work and be successful.”
The state began accepting applications for adult-use dispensary licenses on August 25, with the deadline arriving on September 26. New York officials have said that roughly 500 applications had been submitted, while hundreds of applicants were rejected due to being ineligible.
The first dispensary licenses will be designated for individuals who have previously been convicted of a pot-related offense.
“New York State is making history, launching a first-of-its-kind approach to the cannabis industry that takes a major step forward in righting the wrongs of the past,” Hochul said in her announcement of the policy in March. “The regulations advanced by the Cannabis Control Board today will prioritize local farmers and entrepreneurs, creating jobs and opportunity for communities that have been left out and left behind. I’m proud New York will be a national model for the safe, equitable and inclusive industry we are now building.”
Hochul’s predecessor, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, legalized recreational cannabis in the state when he signed a bill into law in March of 2021. The measure immediately ended the state’s ban on possession, but the regulated cannabis market was slow to get off the ground under Cuomo, who stepped down as governor in August of last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
After taking over, Hochul made it a priority to get the program up and running, something she touted in her interview with the editorial board last week.
“Talk about the rollout being jammed up. When I became governor, nothing had happened. Nothing. It was shut down because there was a battle between the administration and the legislature over who would be the executive director and the chairs of the cannabis review boards,” she said. “So, I was given a lot of credit because within one week, I named people. I got things going. So, when I speak to people about being part of this industry, the first thing they say is ‘thank you.’ Because otherwise we could still be waiting and waiting and waiting, even for the most basic steps to be taken. So we’ve been moving along quickly.”