Medical marijuana backer targets New York City

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Now that Governor Andrew Cuomo has effectively preempted a far-reaching statewide medical marijuana law by announcing his support for a much narrower interpretation of an existing one, some advocates are setting their sights on New York City instead.

"With the governor now moving statewide toward his pilot project, efforts are underway to craft a viable New York City-only medical marijuana bill," Patricia Lynch, one of Albany's most powerful lobbyists, told me.

"We've been in conversations with national advocates for more than a month," she said, adding that she expected this to be "one of the issues folks will be looking at as the City Council gets underway."

Lynch wouldn't reveal the names of her clients, though she had been representing Gaia Plant-Based Medicine, a Colorado-based medical marijuana outfit, up in Albany. (When Patrick McCarthy and Lisa Reid left Patricia Lynch Associates this past fall, they took the Gaia account with them.) 

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The New York City lobbying database didn't turn up any further information.

Lynch believes that advocates will be able to craft a New York City-specific piece of legislation that won't require Albany approval.

One possible avenue: requiring nonprofit medical marijuana purveyors to pay a registration fee, but not a tax, since all new taxes (aside from property tax hikes) require state legislative approval.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio, both of whom would need to approve any such measure, had no immediate comment.