NEW YORK – Governors Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Tom Wolf (D-Pa.), joined by other officials from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, participated in a forum on vaping and recreational cannabis Thursday.

The leaders of the region want to work together on vaping and cannabis regulations as best they can since millions of residents live near the densely populated state borders.

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“Whether it comes to the emerging public health issues surrounding vaping and e-cigarettes, or the use of marijuana, permitting the illegal market to run unregulated, which is what is currently happening, is neither safe nor is it in the best interests of all our residents,” said Gov. Lamont.

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut often work together, but typically for security and transit-related issues. Commuters and transit lines from all three states converge on the island of Manhattan, often requiring government and law enforcement collaboration. Because cannabis can easily be taken across several state lines in a matter of minutes in the region (traffic conditions permitting of course), it is critical that these states work together on enforcement.

“This issue is complicated, controversial, and consequential,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It is probably one of the most challenging I’ve had to address in New York, and it’s a challenge for all the states. The goal of this summit is to collaborate with one another, share resources, and think collectively as we all try to figure this out.”

Cuomo also took the federal government to task, indicating that these type of interstate issues should ideally be handled by federal authorities.

“The federal government is supposed to get involved in issues that go beyond one state’s borders, but that is not happening on any issue facing the country,” Cuomo added. “The states are on our own, so we are working together to find regionally coordinated solutions to protect the public health.”

New Jersey’s Gov. Murphy is also seeking a cohesive approach from other states in the region. “Our impact is much greater when we break out of our own silos as individual states and collaborate on the tough issues plaguing our region and nation,” he said. “Together, we can ensure that these challenges are met with thoughtful, comprehensive action for those who live and work in our region.”

Gov. Wolf signaled an eagerness to work with neighboring states in order to implement fair regulations for all residents. “It’s imperative that we focus on bringing the conversation about cannabis into the open and making sure there is proper regulation,” he said. “When we establish a marketplace for cannabis, social justice and empowerment initiatives must be considered.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) thought the conference was a good first step toward ensuring northeast states will work together on cannabis and vaping regulation. 

“The principles we’ve agreed to today will allow us to better coordinate our efforts as we address some of the most challenging issues facing our states,” Raimondo said. “Through this partnership, we will work together to protect families from the dangers posed by the illicit cannabis market and vaping.” 

The conference attempted to cover quite a bit of regulatory ground. According to the official New York Governor’s website, the states have agreed to pursue a number of common goals including identifying the best practices for taxing cannabis sales, the number of business licenses issued, ensuring social equity initiatives, and promoting access to financial and banking services for businesses.