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Activists Bet on Weed for NY Constitutional Convention

June 16, 2017


NEW YORK, June 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Restrict & Regulate in NY State 2019 (RRNY), a pro-cannabis, 9B ballot issue political action committee, registered with the New York State Board of Elections, dedicated to holding a New York State Constitutional Convention, announced today that the Committee raised more than $600,000 to advance its agenda.


RRNY supports a fully-regulated, fully-tested adult-use cannabis market, a robust medical marijuana program and industrial hemp as a commodity crop. The Committee also supports the introduction into the state constitution a voter-initiated ballot measure process and pension protections for all New Yorkers that are on par with those of legislators and teachers.


The funding for RRNY came from a surprising coalition of unrelated groups that took notice of the eight state sweep that adult-use cannabis and medical marijuana won in the 2016 elections. Family office managers and financial industry executives, who privately support a pro-cannabis agenda, and cannabis industry leaders led the effort. Wealthy philanthropists opposed to harsh drug laws also pledged financial support.


New York is one of 14 states whose constitutions require a periodic popular vote on holding a state constitutional convention. On November 7, 2017, New Yorkers will go to the polls to find, buried on the back of the ballot, the question: "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?" If they say "no," the process will end. If they say "yes," a two-year process will be triggered, culminating in a popular vote on changes to the New York state constitution proposed by a convention to be held in April 2019. RRNY believes that a "yes" vote will allow it to advance its pro-cannabis agenda by going around the legislature in a manner similar to the method it employed in the 29 states where cannabis is now legal.


"New Yorkers pride themselves on being leaders, both nationally and worldwide. We are the fourth largest state in the U.S. but our neighbors, like Massachusetts, are leaving us in the dust on the cannabis issue," said Will Powers, Treasurer of RRNY and longtime figure in New York State politics. "It's high time we take control of our legislative process and make the will of the voters clear."


Powers goes on to say, "That is exactly what we are going to do this November 7. The voters are going to say 'yes' and in 2019 we are going to hold a state constitutional convention. At that convention, we are going to tie the hands of the legislature so that the sensible use of cannabis for adults, medical patients and New York farmers will never again be prohibited in New York State."


RRNY launched its new website on Wednesday. Its donation page is powered by ActBlue, the same organization Bernie Sanders campaign employed during the 2016 primary process and leverages the cannabis industry dog-whistle "420" by tagging 4.20 to the end of all pledge amounts. Sanders famously raised record-breaking amounts with an average contribution of $27. RRNY hopes to do Bernie one better with brief daily appeals to cannabis supporters nationwide to donate $4.20 at 4:20.


"The cannabis movement has made marijuana legal for medical or personal use in 29 states and the District of Columbia exclusively through the use of voter-initiated ballot proposals. We understand this process better than any group on the planet and we have built a virtual machine to bring our issue before voters over the last 21 years this way. But the New York State Constitution has no such provision and we were helpless here until now," according to Jerome W. Dewald, the group's leader.


Dewald goes on to contend, "Were it not so, New York would be today standing alongside California and Florida saying enough of this Nixon-era nonsense. Cannabis is far less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. It's time to stop spending our hard-earned tax dollars putting people in our jails and our prisons, destroying families and lives, for possessing or using this relatively harmless substance."


"The New York legislature is notoriously corrupt and gridlocked and no longer represents the will of the people," said Josh Alper, Chairman of RRNY's Events and Communications Committee and President of Blue Diamond, Inc, a publicly-traded company in the cannabis space.


"In just one week we raised over $600k toward a 'yes' vote this November 7," said Steve Gormley, another cannabis industry executive and head of fundraising activities for RRNY. "The cannabis industry sees prohibition in New York as a national issue. If we are to prevent a roll-back of our hard-fought victories from 1996 to 2016, we need big, influential friends and there is no better, more influential friend than New York."


RRNY will be hosting and sponsoring events throughout the state this summer to educate their base and those allied groups favoring a state constitutional convention "yes" vote this November. Its new website can be found at www.Cannabis4NY.org. News media please email WeListen@Cannabis4NY.org.

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