New York could be one of the next states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
The proposals (Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act) would make possession of up to two ounces of weed legal for adults 18 and older. It would also establish a fully legal cannabis market that would give adults 21 and older the freedom to purchase cannabis products from state licensed retail dispensaries.
“The intent of this act is to regulate, control, and tax marihuana in a manner similar to alcohol, generate millions of dollars in new revenue, prevent access to marihuana by those under the age of eighteen years, reduce the illegal drug market and reduce violent crime, reduce the racially disparate impact of existing marihuana laws, allow industrial hemp to be farmed in New York state, and create new industries and increase employment,” the proposal reads.
As it stands, eight states, including neighboring Massachusetts, have legalized the cannabis plant in this capacity. Some advocates believe the evolving cannabis laws in parts of New England might be enough to persuade state lawmakers to take this issue a little more seriously than they have done in the past.
Although New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has not been on the side of marijuana reform, there is some evidence to suggest that his attitude might be changing.
In addition to supporting expansions to New York's ultra-restrictive medical marijuana program, Cuomo recently announced plans to clarify the state's decades old decriminalization law.
“The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety,” Cuomo said.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act has been referred to committee in both houses. We will know more about its chances for passage sometime in the next couple of months.
So far, Cuomo's office has not said whether the governor would sign the bill if it were to land on his desk later this year.