Advocates eye constitutional convention as path to legalizing marijuana in New York

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Advocates eye constitutional convention as path to legalizing marijuana in New York
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ALBANY — A state constitutional convention could become a pot party if a group of advocates fighting to legalize marijuana in New York get their way.

The group Restrict & Regulate in NY State 2019 has formed a political action committee and is planning a public information campaign to convince New Yorkers to vote this fall in favor of holding a constitutional convention.

The group contends it may be the quickest way to write into law provisions that would allow the recreational use of marijuana.

“We believe that going through a convention process is the only viable and reasonable alternative to the Legislature,” said Jerome Dewald, a 66-year-old venture capitalist from Manhattan who is leading the effort.

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Dewald, who has invested in cannabis industry ventures around the country, noted that legislation to legalize marijuana has been bottled up in the Legislature for several years.

“We simply don’t believe that (legislators) will achieve any objectively reasonable result in less than five years,” Dewald said.

A group called Restrict & Regulate in NY State 2019 hopes a constitutional convention could bypass the Legislature in legalizing marijuana.

A group called Restrict & Regulate in NY State 2019 hopes a constitutional convention could bypass the Legislature in legalizing marijuana.

The group plans to have reps at festivals and other events where millennials gather this summer, and then launch a more traditional ad campaign later in the fall.

Under state law, the question of whether to hold a constitutional convention must be put to voters at least once every 20 years. If voters vote yes on Election Day, an election would be held next year to select delegates and a convention convened in 2019.

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“I sincerely have no idea what kind of momentum this proposal would have,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), who has sponsored legislation to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

The question has generated opposition from several labor unions that fear it could lead to a weakening of worker protections in New York.


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