2020 NY Cannabis Voter Guide
The Castetter Cannabis Group is a leader in regulatory & policy analysis for the cannabis industry in New York State. One of our goals is to push for fair policies that will further develop New York's cannabis industry while incentivizing the growth of small & medium-sized businesses.
We've compiled candidates for office who's advocacy, legislative work, and public comments further this goal. Please note that we have identified candidates who are clearly pro-cannabis and that does not necessarily mean we oppose the candidacy of those not on this list. We analyze politics from a non-partisan lens, however, the Republican party in New York and nationwide has been generally opposed to progress on cannabis policy and the list below reflects that, with only one Republican and ten Democrats. It is our hope that public opinion will shift cannabis towards a non-partisan issue in the coming years.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi (Democrat, NY-22)
Binghamton, Utica, Cortland
Representative Anthony Brindisi has been one of the most ardent supporters of making federal law and regulations friendly for the New York hemp industry. He became a co-sponsor for H.R. 5587, a bill that would require the FDA to regulate hemp-derived CBD as supplements. He also supported a provision extending the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program for one year in a recently passed funding bill.
From his position on the House Agriculture Committee, the Congressman has also worked directly with federal agencies to ensure hemp businesses in New York are treated fairly including asking the USDA to include hemp farmers in COVID relief funds. The USDA eventually reversed their previous decision to not allow hemp farmers from applying for this aid.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (Democrat, NY-8)
Parts of Brooklyn and Queens
Jeffries has emerged as a budding leader in the Democratic Party and for the cannabis legalization movement. He is the co-sponsor of six cannabis-related bills including the MORE Act, SAFE Banking Act, and the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act. As the congressman continues to climb the ranks of leadership, he is an important advocate for the industry in Washington.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (Democrat, NY-10)
Parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan
Perhaps one of the most outspoken supporters of legalizing cannabis at the federal level, Rep. Nadler has spearheaded the MORE Act. This bill would completely end prohibition at the national level.
He has also been a supporter of the hemp industry from early on, co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 which would have ended the decades-long prohibition on hemp and ended up more-or-less being adopted into the 2018 Farm Bill. As the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, he could play an important role in the coming years as Congress moves closer to ending federal prohibition.
Rep. Max Rose (Democrat, NY-11)
Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn
In the congressman's short tenure in office, he has been a consistent and public supporter of cannabis legalization on both the federal and state levels. He has taken Attorney General Jeff Sessions to task over a Justice Department decision to rescind policy restricting the interference of medical marijuana programs. If elected back into congress we believe Rose can be counted on to be a positive influence in passing much needed federal cannabis reform.
NY State Assembly
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (Democrat, AD-123)
Binghamton, Endwell, Johnson City
Donna Lupardo has become recognized as New York's hemp champion. If we could give someone a "super-endorsement", it would be Donna. She spearheaded the efforts to establish New York's Pilot Hemp Program in 2015 and then returned with legislation in 2017 to allow commercial businesses into the hemp program along with $2.5 million in research grants for Cornell University. In 2019, Lupardo was the prime co-sponsor of the Hemp Extract Law which was a landmark piece of legislation directing NYS to adopt nation-leading regulations for quality standardization and licensing.
The Assemblywoman has also been important in ensuring NYS Agencies are regulating the hemp industry within the intent of legislation, recently criticizing the move by the Department of Health to ban the sale of hemp flower. As chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Donna Lupardo has become the single most important lawmaker for advancing the New York hemp industry.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (Democrat, AD-141)
As one of the most powerful members of New York's Assembly, Peoples-Stokes is the most well-known and fiercest advocate for legalizing cannabis for adult-use in the legislative body. She has been the prime co-sponsor in the Assembly for the Marijuana Regulation & Tax Act (MRTA) over the past three legislative sessions. This bill will establish a marketplace and regulatory framework for overseeing an adult-use cannabis industry. The legislation has a focus on social equity, righting the wrongs of a decades-long war on drugs, and supporting small-sized operators.
NY State Senate
Senator Tom O'Mara (Republican, SD-58)
Elmira, Corning, Watkins Glen, Ithaca
While being named of the NY Senate's "most conservative" members, O'Mara has been an important advocate for the New York hemp industry. He has been a co-sponsor of every NY hemp legislation and played an important role in the establishment of the Hemp Pilot Program, pushing legislative forward in the then republican-controlled senate. He has also supported expanding the medical marijuana program and in an interview with the Empire State of Cannabis, expressed a willingness to support adult-use legalization if it supported opportunities for small farmers.
Senator Liz Krueger (Democrat, SD- 28)
Senator Krueger is the main advocate for legalization in the State Senate. She first introduced the MRTA in 2013 and since then has both educated and chastised colleagues in committee hearings on the subject. Krueger said that she and Peoples-Stokes
are focused on reinvesting funds back into communities “where the harm was done through
prohibition,” and has also led negotiations for compromises intended to gain the support of her Senate colleagues including allocating revenue for law enforcement and education.
Senator Jen Metzger (Democrat, SD-42)
Middletown, Port Jervis, Goshen, Delhi, Warwick, New Paltz
As the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Metzger has been an advocate for the hemp industry since being elected two years ago. She was a co-sponsor of the Hemp Extract Law and has worked closely with Assemblywoman Lupardo on ensuring the development of hemp in New York. If re-elected, we expect Metzger to continue helping small hemp farmers in the Hudson Valley and across New York.
Senator Diane Savino (Democrat, SD-23rd)
Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn
Senator Savino is one of the most vocal advocates of the cannabis industry in New York. She introduced legislation establishing the State's medical marijuana program in 2014 and has since introduced legislation to expand the program. Savino is seen as a key part of efforts to legalize cannabis for adult-use.
County Executive Jason Garnar (Democrat, Broome County)
Binghamton, Endicott, Vestal, Windsor
Jason is the only local official we are endorsing in 2020 and for good reason. In his four year tenure, Garnar has fully embraced the hemp and prospective cannabis industry for Broome County. He is the only County Executive to go on record as supporting adult-use cannabis sales, saying that the county would "opt-in". He has also played an important role in attracting hemp businesses to the area. If re-elected, he could lead Broome County into being a hub for economic activity in the New York cannabis industry.