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Can New York (Or Any Other State) Get Marijuana Legalization Right?

Wednesday September 2023


Jonathan Caulkins Professor, Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College
Charles Fain Lehman Fellow | Contributing Editor, City Journal @CharlesFLehman
Ross Douthat Opinion Columnist, New York Times
Kevin A. Sabet President and CEO, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM)

In the last decade, several states and jurisdictions, including New York, have pursued frameworks to enable the legalized sale, cultivation, and use of marijuana. Since then, arguments in favor of legalization have become more widespread, promising an efficient regulatory regime with positive effects across criminal justice, health, and economic growth. However, in New York the legalization rollout has been fraught with challenges, including the continued operation of illegal pot shops, licensure delays, lawsuits, and misguided strategies in the name of “equity.” In early adopter states such as Colorado, legalized marijuana use has led to worrying trends and externalities.

In what ways have New York State’s legalization efforts fallen short and what policy levers, if any, are available to salvage them? Can arguments in favor of legalization withstand data-based scrutiny? During this panel discussion moderated by Ross Douthat of the New York Times, panelists will address the state of marijuana legalization in New York and other jurisdictions, the reality of legalization compared to the rhetoric of advocates, and whether there is a realistic legalization regime capable of contributing to meaningful improvements in public safety, economic development, and quality of life in New York. A light lunch will be provided.

Photo by 24K-Production/iStock