Former New York state Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, a Republican who served in the chamber from 1981 to 1999, has been hired as a senior adviser for the Marijuana Policy Project as they expand into the state, the New York Daily News reports. The advocacy organization also hired attorney and community organizer Landon Dais to serve as its New York political director.
D’Amato, who never voted on cannabis policies during his tenure as a legislator, was described by the News as against the use of cannabis for much of his life, but that his position began to evolve following an interview with Howard Stern in 2009. In the interview with the News, D’Amato called Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ position on cannabis policy “ridiculous.”
“I say how can you on the one hand be for states’ rights and on the other hand say the states that have legalized the use of marijuana, that you’re not going to recognize that,” he said. “You can’t be a states’ rights person only when you like what the states are doing and not what the feds are doing. It’s one or the other.”
New York Conservative Party chairman Michael Long, an ally of D’Amato during his state Senate tenure, said he hopes the former lawmaker “doesn’t partake in a move that would open the door for legalization of marijuana.”
D’Amato said that while recreational legalization is “not something [the MPP] are promoting” the conversation is taking place in New York as well as the rest of the nation.
“There is no doubt that that is something that will come more and more to the forefront as time goes on,” he said.
After leaving the legislature, D’Amato founded Park Strategies LLC, a lobbying firm, serving as its managing director.