Will Marijuana Be Legal in New York in Time for Woodstock 50?
Organizers just announced that the 50th-anniversary edition of Woodstock will be held this August in New York. Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo is promising that cannabis legalization is imminent. Which will happen first?
Times are changing quickly in New York. New York City was once one of the most prolific places on the planet when it came to arresting people for marijuana, especially minorities, but today it’s riding the wave of cannabis decriminalization and political momentum is building behind cannabis legalization. Up state in Albany, everybody is watching the clock and waiting for it to strike weednight, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised that reform is right around the corner.
As the New York Times notes, Cuomo made his intent for legal marijuana clear last month. In fact, he said he stated it was one of his priorities for the first 100 days of his new term. This timeline is particularly interesting in the context of a new announcement: A 50th-anniversary Woodstock festival will take place in upstate New York this summer.
That means if we’re going by the governor’s perspective plan, Cuomo could be signing cannabis legalization legislation within three months and well before Woodstock 50.
The question is not whether or not Woodstock attendees could stop at the weed shop on their way to Woodstock this summer. It will likely take year or more for the regulated marketplace in New York to open up. As we have seen in the past, as legalization travels from state to state, regulators take years to figure out how to set up a system for people to sell and grow cannabis, and then count the tax money.
The question is really whether or not it would be legal for Woodstock attendees to have the possibility of possessing cannabis by August. It doesn’t seem that crazy.
We reached out to the nation’s oldest marijuana reform organization, NORML, to get their take on the prospects for New York. NORML was founded only a year after the original Woodstock in 1969.
“It is certainly not impossible that marijuana will be legal to possess in New York in time for Woodstock 50,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri told Cannabis Now. “Only time will tell.”
Altieri said that he is hopeful that the timelines put forth by Cuomo become a reality.
“It is dependent on state lawmakers and Gov. Cuomo putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to turning their recent pro-legalization rhetoric into a reality,” said Altieri. “They need to make this legislation a top priority and treat it with the seriousness it deserves before the state spends another year arresting tens of thousands of its otherwise law-abiding residents.”
In the end, Altieri doesn’t believe politicians will have too much to do with whether there will be a lot of pot at Woodstock.
“No matter the state of legalization in New York come August, something tells me that marijuana will just be at home at Woodstock in 2019 as it was in 1969,” he said.
Despite all this, the Woodstock brand is already way ahead of the curve on cannabis. Last August, Woodstock Ventures LC and its affiliate The Woodstock Cannabis Company granted cannabis company MedMen the rights to use the iconic Woodstock brand on cannabis products manufactured and sold in six states: California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois and Arizona.
“We’ve been looking for the right partner — one with our values and our quality standards. When we were introduced to MedMen, we knew that our search was over,” said Michael Lang and Joel Rosenman, co-producers of the 1969 Woodstock Festival and all Woodstock reunion festivals. “They are tireless innovators of new products who never lose sight of the number one focus for both of our companies — quality.”
Lang told Rolling Stone he’ll be booking the festival himself this year to help bring back the original peace and love vibe which we may now need more than ever.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Press Office did not respond to whether weed will be legal by Woodstock 50.
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