Legalizing Marijuana

WAMC, Allison Dunne

Hudson Valley residents had a chance to weigh in on the legalization of adult-use marijuana in New York. They did so in Newburgh Monday night at one of 17 listening sessions being held across the state.

Composite photo by Dave Lucas

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that a group consisting of New York state government and law enforcement officials, advocates and academics has been appointed to draft legislation for regulating recreational marijuana.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's adminstration released a study Friday that finds the state could benefit by legalizing marijuana.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration is moving ahead on a recommendation to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, a move immediately criticized by Cuomo’s Republican opponent for governor.

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
Karen DeWitt

A top lawmaker in New York says that if the state legalizes recreational marijuana it should also consider expunging marijuana-related criminal records that can make it harder for many people to find jobs or housing.

Pittsfield Fine-Tunes Final Pot Policy

Apr 12, 2018
wikimedia commons

Pittsfield’s City Council fine-tuned the terms of its local marijuana regulations Tuesday.

Cynthia Nixon

A week after telling two interviewers her support for legalizing recreational use of marijuana in New York was revenue-based, Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon said Wednesday that it's now foremost a racial justice issue for her.

Great Barrington Boards Feud Over Pot Permits

Apr 4, 2018
Town Of Great Barrington

Town officials in Great Barrington, Massachusetts are battling over marijuana policy.

   Massachusetts reaches a milestone today in the introduction of the legal marijuana industry to the state.

North Adams, Massachusetts is working to formalize its marijuana ordinances by the end of the month. 

In the last five years, eight states have legalized recreational marijuana. To many, continued progress seems certain. But pot was on a similar trajectory forty years ago, only to encounter a fierce backlash. 

Emily Dufton holds a PhD in American Studies from George Washington University. Her new book is "Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America." In it, she tells the remarkable story of marijuana's crooked path from acceptance to demonization and back again, and of the thousands of grassroots activists who made changing marijuana laws their life's work.

The Berkshire United Way convened the group consisting of Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless, members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force and two doctors for the forum at Berkshire Community College.
Jim Levulis / WAMC

As Massachusetts considers legalizing marijuana, medical and law enforcement leaders in Berkshire County met Wednesday to discuss the drug’s impacts.

Voters in Massachusetts support legalizing marijuana and expanding the number of charter schools in the state, according to a new poll by Western New England University.  Both issues are likely to appear on the November ballot in Massachusetts. 

Steve Brown/WBUR

A special committee of the state Senate today released a list of recommendations for lawmakers to consider should Massachusetts voters later this year approve a referendum legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

WAMC composite image by Dave Lucas

A small but growing number of patients have been receiving medical marijuana since New York recently launched one of the strictest programs in the country.

Picture of marijuana plant
US Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Eight Massachusetts State Senators are on a fact-finding trip in Colorado to look into the legalization of marijuana ahead of a possible voter referendum. 

Massachusetts voters in 2012 legalized medical marijuana. A question to legalize it for recreational use is expected to appear on the state election ballot this November.

         Marijuana was legalized in Colorado two years ago.  

State Senator James Welch of West Springfield is a member of the delegation visiting Colorado and he spoke  Wednesday  with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has found that 22 of 35 initiatives for the 2016 ballot submitted to her office are constitutional.


Wednesday marked the final day for ballot initiatives to be filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. The submissions reveal a struggle over the best way to legalize recreational marijuana.

  The legalization of marijuana is the next great reversal of history. Perhaps the most demonized substance in America, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa, simply a very fast growing herb, thrived underground as the nation's most popular illegal drug.

Now the tide has shifted: In 1996 California passed the nation's first medical marijuana law, which allowed patients to grow it and use it with a doctor's permission. By 2010, twenty states and the District of Columbia had adopted medical pot laws. In 2012 Colorado and Washington state passed ballot measures legalizing marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

Bruce Barcott, a former Guggenheim Fellow in nonfiction, is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, the Atlantic Monthly, Outside magazine, and many other publications. His book is Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

Picture of marijuana plant

Following earlier efforts, 15 Massachusetts lawmakers are throwing their support behind a bill that would legalize and tax the sale of marijuana in the Bay State.

2/27/15 Panel

Feb 27, 2015

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, SUNY at Albany journalism professor and investigative journalist, Rosemary Armao, and WAMC newsman, Ray Graf.

Topics include: Jihadi John; potential sale of New York’s Daily News; FCC Okays Net Neutrality, Congressional Republicans against legalized marijuana in D.C.

2/26/15 Panel

Feb 26, 2015


  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, SUNY at Albany journalism professor and investigative journalist, Rosemary Armao, and WAMC newsman, Ray Graf.

Topics include: Tensions between the White House and Benjamin Netanyahu; Brooklyn plot to aid ISIS; DHS Funding Update; marijuana in D.C.

12/22/14 Panel

Dec 22, 2014

The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are Times Union Associate Editor Mike Spain, College of St. Rose Communications Professor Mary Alice Molgard and political consultant Libby Post.

Topics include: Murder of NYPD Police Officers, North Korea, DeBlasio Tensions, and Marijuana in New York.

Picture of marijuana plant
wikipedia commons

A new poll shows a majority of Connecticut residents support legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

But the Quinnipiac poll released Monday also shows a wide age gap between supporters and opponents of legalized pot.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

Laws regarding the sale and use of marijuana vary across the country. The issue of the drug’s use among teens was the topic of a talk in Lenox, Massachusetts Wednesday.

While Colorado and Washington allow the recreational use of marijuana and states like Massachusetts have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes, the federal government considers it a Schedule I drug. That puts it in the same category as drugs like heroin. The legal uncertainty creates confusion for teens according to a countywide study cited by Lenox Public Schools superintendent Edward Costa.

WAMC composite image by Dave Lucas

When it comes to legalizing marijuana, things are moving quickly, especially in New York.

Last Friday, the federal government released guidelines for banks to conduct business with the $1.5-billion-a-year legal marijuana industry. Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states, and legislation is pending in 13 others. The green signal may have been sent in January when President Barack Obama told The New Yorker that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol, opening the door for debate.

  College of Saint Rose alumna Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian, investigative journalists and authors of a groundbreaking book on the movement toward legalization of marijuana, will read from their new book, A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition, as part of the 2014 Frequency North writers series at The College of Saint Rose on Thursday February 6th.

In November 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington passed landmark measures to legalize the production and sale of cannabis for social use—a first not only in the United States but also the world. Medical cannabis is now legal in twenty states and Washington, D.C., and more than one million Americans have turned to it in place of conventional pharmaceuticals.

Yet the federal government refuses to acknowledge these broader societal shifts and continues to raid and arrest people: 49.5 percent of all drug-related arrests involve the sale, manufacture, or possession of cannabis.

Krueger office

A bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in New York State was introduced last week. The measure would regulate the sale of pot and tax it, treating it similarly to alcohol.  Proponents are cautiously optimistic that the governor might see the plan in a favorable light.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

Residents in Pittsfield, Massachusetts have heard from members of an organization looking to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the city.

Nial DeMena is the Director of Operations for Manna Wellness.

“We’re looking to be the first LEED-certified registered marijuana dispensary in the country,” said DeMena.

4/5/13 - Panel

Apr 5, 2013

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, WAMC’s Associate News Producer, Patrick Donges, and the Producer of The Roundtable – Sarah LaDuke. Ray Graf moderates.

This morning our discussion topics include:

  • North Korea Moves Missile to Coast
  • PEW: Majority Now Supports Legalizing Marijuana
  • Roger Ebert dies at 70 after battle with cancer