Tip Sheets

New York ‘Green New Deal’ and marijuana legalization in the spotlight

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to give his annual State of the State address and unveil his budget proposal this afternoon. Two of Cuomo’s proposals likely to be discussed are New York’s adoption of a “Green New Deal” to stamp out the state’s carbon footprint by 2040 and a plan to legalize recreational adult marijuana use in the state.

Lara Skinner

Director, Worker Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate Initiative

Lara Skinner, executive director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University, is a member of New York State’s Environmental Justice and Just Transition Working Group as well the state’s Offshore Wind Ports Workforce Development Committee. She is an expert on labor and employment issues related to sustainability, climate protection and climate protection policy.

"In the past year, New York began implementing a Green New Deal by scaling up investment in clean energy sectors and creating high-quality renewable energy jobs that make our communities healthier and more equitable. In 2018, New York state was the first state in the country to require Project Labor Agreements for all offshore wind projects.

“Governor Cuomo has the opportunity in 2019 to double-down on the state’s commitment to tackling climate change and inequality by making New York state a leading center of the offshore wind industry with state of the art ports and manufacturing facilities.”

John Cawley

Professor, Cornell Brooks School of Public Policy

John Cawley, professor of policy analysis & management, and economics is co-director of Cornell's Institute on Health Economics, Health Behaviors and Disparities. He is an expert on the economics of risky health behaviors.

“New York is considering legislation to legalize recreational adult marijuana use in the state. Creating a well-functioning recreational marijuana market is not like simply flipping on a light switch. A large number of regulations must be put in place to facilitate use that would increase social welfare while preventing harmful use that would lower it.

“The economic perspective is that well-designed regulations seek to maximize social welfare by minimizing the influence of ‘market failures.’ In marijuana markets, these would fall into several categories:

“Provide missing information. To facilitate informed decision-making, potency should be measured and clearly labeled, and an outreach program should educate consumers about how to interpret this information.

“Minimize negative externalities. Second-hand smoke is a classic example, and smoking in public places should be prohibited for this reason. Another is the additional health care costs paid by taxpayers to cover the Medicaid costs of treating marijuana-related illness. These costs can be ‘internalized’ through taxes on marijuana; ideally the tax is equal to the external costs imposed by that unit of marijuana. Another way to reduce negative externalities is to ban combustible forms of marijuana while allowing use in the form of edibles and oils.

“Prevent mistaken usage. A major concern is preventing use among children. Thankfully, marijuana use by youths has not risen in other states that have adopted recreational marijuana. This may be due in part to their laws strictly prohibiting sale to minors and banning advertising on television or radio shows for which minors are a significant fraction of the audience. Another reasonable step is zoning regulations preventing marijuana dispensaries close to schools. Requiring that edibles not resemble common candies and requiring that all marijuana products be sold in child-proof containers, are other reasonable precautions to prevent mistaken consumption by children.

“With careful regulations that facilitate informed use while limiting harmful or mistaken use, legal recreational marijuana markets can enhance the social welfare of New York state.”

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