Pretty much everyone in New York is ready for legal weed. Whether that means applying the Empire State's notorious hustle-hard mentality to the cannabis industry, or just getting stoned without the threat of arrest from NYPD, New York State residents are on board with ending marijuana prohibition once and for all.
First spotted by Marijuana Moment, a new statewide survey from Quinnipiac University found that 63% of all New York residents support total cannabis legalization, with only 32% of respondents saying they support the state's current prohibitionist policies.
As states across the West Coast and Eastern Seaboard continue to enact new versions of comprehensive cannabis reform each and every year, New York has lagged behind significantly. Even with a restrictive but expanding medical marijuana program, the Empire State has remained one of America's most marijuana-unfriendly states, with absurdly high numbers of cannabis-related arrests persisting, despite years of supposed decriminalization across New York City.
And while Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently begun speaking about cannabis legalization as if it's inevitable, he's also stopped short of any real legislative action — while also ignoring the state's well-documented, racially-disproportionate cannabis arrest statistics.
Digging deeper, the Quinnipiac poll also reported that — save self-identifying Republicans and the elderly — the majority of every other demographic in New York would like to see marijuana legalized. Leading the fight for prohibition reform, over 70% of New York Democrats said they support legalization.
"The 63 percent support for legalizing so-called recreational marijuana is a high water mark in New York," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "Voters don't see marijuana as a gateway to stronger drugs."
With support for cannabis reform in the Empire State higher than ever before, November's election season will be a litmus test to see where legalization ranks compared to other issues, especially since a number of political hopefuls are tying their wagon to legal weed.
Challenging Gov. Cuomo for the state's highest seat, Democrat Cynthia Nixon (yes, of Sex and the City fame) and Independent Joel Giambra have both said that they would legalize recreational cannabis use and sales if elected, with the former gaining significant steam based on her green promise.
With nearby states like Massachusetts and Maine already passing legalization laws, and neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut catching up quickly, Cuomo is certainly right when he says that legalization in New York is a matter of 'when' and not 'if.' But listening to everyday New Yorkers, the time is already here, and it's now up to Cuomo and his fellow politicians to finally play catch-up.
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