There does not appear to be much hope of the New York Legislature pulling together in the next couple of years to legalize marijuana for recreational use. It is for this reason that a group of cannabis advocates from Albany is hoping to get this reform on the books by way of constitution convention – a process that would bypass legislative forces altogether and be put the question of legalization, solely, in the hands of the people.
An organization going by the name Restrict & Regulate in NY State 2019 (RRNY) is reportedly on the move to persuade New York residents to get behind a push for a constitutional convention. The goal is to use this campaign as a backdoor to a fully legal cannabis trade.
New York is one of 15 states that give voters a say on whether to change the state constitution. It is an opportunity that only happens once every 20 years. In fact, the last time New Yorkers voted favorably on the matter was back in 1967. It was rejected in both 1977 and 1997.
However, the group believes that New York voters will definitely go for it this time around. And if they do, changes to the state constitution could be realized in April 2019 – potentially putting an end to marijuana prohibition all across the state, once and for all.
“We believe that going through a convention process is the only viable and reasonable alternative to the Legislature,” Jerome Dewald, one of the leading organizers of the campaign, told the New York Daily News. “We simply don’t believe that (legislators) will achieve any objectively reasonable result in less than five years.”
State Senator Liz Krueger, one of the leading lawmakers pushing for legal weed, says she has “no idea” whether a push of this magnitude will garner any success.
There will be many different issues at stake, other than marijuana legalization, if the voters give the green light this November for a convention. Special interests groups are all pushing their respective agendas.
But Restrict & Regulate feels confident that marijuana reform stands more than a fighting chance of being recognized.
“RRNY believes it is crystal clear that New Yorkers will turn out in much higher numbers than usual and they will vote to override the NY legislature on a number of issues, including cannabis, marijuana and hemp, by voting to have a state constitutional convention on November 7,” Alper said.