Although a number of state legislatures have finished discussing the possibly of marijuana legalization in 2017, New York is just getting started. Lawmakers will soon reintroduce a proposal that aims to establish a fully legal recreational marijuana trade.
Senator Liz Krueger and Representative Crystal Peoples-Stokes will hold the proverbial hatchet to the neck of prohibitionary times with a helping hand from national marijuana advocacy group the Drug Policy Alliance. Together, this unit plans to reintroduce a bill in both chambers of General Assembly entitled the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act,” as well as launch a new campaign called Start SMART NY, which is calling for “sensible marijuana access through regulated trade.”
The proposals – A3506 and S3040 -- would give adults 18 and older the freedom to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants at home for personal use. It would also establish a fully legal cannabis industry, similar to what is happening in states like Colorado and Washington, giving adults 21 and older the freedom to purchase cannabis products from retail dispensaries in a manner that compares to purchasing alcohol.
If this group can finally get the state legislature to buy into the concept of full legalization, New York stands to rake in billions of dollars by simply pulling marijuana out of the hands of black market dealers. Statistics provided by Start SMART show the Empire State could easily see $3 billion per year in sales, with New York City alone generating over $400 million.
Incidentally, the same bills were introduced earlier this year, but they were not given any consideration.
Members of a pro-marijuana group called Restrict & Regulate in NY 2019 (RRNY) recently said that they have lost faith in the ability of the state legislature to pass a serious marijuana reform measure. It is for this reason the group is pushing to get New York voters to support a constitutional convention in the upcoming November election. If this rare event should happen, it is conceivable that legal marijuana could be added to the state constitution in 2019.
But as MERRY JANE reported, earlier this week, there will be a number of special interest groups working to push their respective agendas if the convention is approved, leaving no guarantees that marijuana legalization would find its way into the law.
Even if the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act would find passage in the New York General Assembly this year, it is unlikely to become law. Governor Andrew Cuomo said months ago that he was not yet prepared to get behind marijuana legalization. Sadly, Cuomo remains convinced that marijuana is a gateway drug, and is concerned that providing legal access to the herb would lead more people down the road to drug abuse.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which has already secured a number of co-sponsors, will be formally introduced on Monday.