Legal Marijuana Is Coming To New York

Legal Marijuana Is Coming To New York

According to the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), the Empire State is “very close” to legalizing marijuana. 

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) echoed this sentiment on Monday, stating that lawmakers plan to advance the stand-alone legalization bill before passing the budget, which is due on April 1st. However, questions regarding traffic stops and driving while impaired currently have legislators deadlocked.

“We are extremely close. We have reached a little bit of an impasse right now, and it has to do with impaired driving.” State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

No One Wants To Arrest Unlawfully

Law enforcement agencies have expressed concerns that the classification of driving under the influence of cannabis as a traffic infraction would send the wrong message to the public and encourage New Yorkers to drive while intoxicated from marijuana use. The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York maintains that driving while on cannabis should remain a misdemeanor crime.

In its current form, roadside marijuana testing cannot determine how recently a driver may have used cannabis, adding an extra layer of difficulty in policing motorists who use marijuana.

Despite the impasse, Stewart-Cousins remains optimistic about the bill’s eventual passing, saying

“It’s a matter of when, not if.” 

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Originally, Gov. Cuomo included his own version of the legislation in his annual budget request, though it was omitted Monday in a Senate resolution. It seems state legislators would prefer to handle the marijuana issue outside of budget negotiations. 

New York’s Third Opportunity to Legalize Marijuana


This would be New York’s third chance at passing marijuana reform legislation—the last two failed attempts took place as part of Cuomo’s executive budget process. The governor made his eagerness to see legalization finally come to fruition clear with a football analogy, saying, “This is not about getting in the red zone anymore; we have to get over the goal line this time. We need the seven points.”

Past efforts from the governor to bring pot to New York have flopped largely due to disagreements within his own party regarding equity and revenue spending. While state lawmakers sought to spend large swaths of new tax revenue on supporting minority communities that have been disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition, Gov. Cuomo’s previous plans allocated the majority of funds under state control.  

Gov. Cuomo isn’t the only one ready for recreational marijuana to hit the state. According to a recent survey conducted by Sienna College, New Yorkers overwhelmingly support legalizing cannabis for adult use. The poll found that 59% of those surveyed were in favor of legalization, while only a meager 33% were opposed. Last year, in the neighboring state of New Jersey, voters decisively cast ballots in favor of a constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis, allowing lawmakers to set up the necessary regulatory systems for a recreational market.   

During his Monday press conference, Cuomo said, “I think this should’ve passed years ago. I think too many people have been imprisoned, incarcerated, and punished. Too many of those people are Black, Latino, and poor. It’s exaggerated the injustice of the justice system.”

New York Expected to Legalize in 2019

New York Expected to Legalize in 2019

Just fewer than two years since insisting it was a “gateway drug,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is singing a different tune regarding the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in The Empire State.

“It’s a gateway drug, and marijuana leads to other drugs and there’s a lot of proof that that’s true,” Governor Cuomo said in February of 2017. “There’s two sides to the argument. But I, as of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana.”

Fast forward to present day, and Governor Cuomo is in favor of establishing a regulated, legal market. This was showcased during a recent speech when Cuomo said, “Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all.”

“Legalize Adult Use of Recreational Marijuana,” is also included in his agenda for the first 100 days of 2019. Ending the racial disparity in marijuana related arrests was a major motivator in his shift from opposition. According to the agenda, “Governor Cuomo will end the disproportionate criminalization of one race over another by regulating, legalizing and taxing adult use of recreational marijuana.”

This shift in opinion did not happen overnight. After reading a report from the state Health Department in July of last year, Cuomo acknowledged that, “The situation on marijuana is changing.” The report, titled “Assessment of the Potential Impact of Regulated Marijuana in New York State,” started with a brief history of cannabis in the United states, covering how it was widely used as medicine and sold in pharmacies until the 1930s. The report concluded that there are more advantages to establishing a regulated market than there are disadvantages.

One of the most compelling potential benefits mentioned in the report was the tax revenue the state could collect. An analysis released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer estimated that the legal cannabis market in New York could exceed $3 billion. The tax revenue estimated from sales could be as much as $436 million each year. That amount is difficult to ignore when state schools and law enforcement agencies would benefit greatly from the funds.

Job creation, economic development, fewer minority arrests and the opportunity to explore different options regarding personal health were also listed among the potential benefits that may come with a legal market in New York. “The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in N.Y.S. outweigh the potential negative impacts,” the Health Department concluded. “Areas that may be a cause for concern can be mitigated with regulation and proper use of public education that is tailored to address key populations.”

Governor Cuomo also recognizes that maintaining prohibition may soon be a waste of state resources since people can make legal purchases in Massachusetts, where retail shops opened doors to the public in November of last year. Legislators in New Jersey are also working to pass legislation to legalize the recreational use and retail sale, and Connecticut is predicted to legalize soon as well.

If New York beats New Jersey to the punch, it will become the 11th state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. It would also be second to legalize by state legislature instead of a voter initiative. The Pew Research Center released a poll in 2018 which revealed that 62 percent of people in America are in favor of legalizing marijuana. An even larger number of millennials, 74 percent, responded that they supported legalization. The number of those in favor has increased since 2015 when only 53 percent reported that they believed cannabis should be legal in the United States.

New York Liquor Stores Want To Sell Marijuana

New York Liquor Stores Want To Sell Marijuana

Instead of creating a whole new system of specialized stores to distribute marijuana when it becomes legal, New York should just allow existing liquor and wine retail outlets to sell cannabis to adults. That’s the position of a new advocacy effort launched by owners of booze shops this month.

“With more than 2,000 wine and liquor stores from Buffalo to Montauk, we offer existing retail space with quick and cheap access to the market in every corner of the state,” reads the website for the group, which is called The Last Store on Main Street. “That means more tax revenue, and sooner, for the State to fulfill basic responsibilities and invest in the future of our neighborhoods.”

The group, which previously defeated an effort to allow wine sales in grocery stores, says that its members shops “operate under a highly regulated system that can easily and reasonably be expanded to cover marijuana retail without building new bureaucracy that only serves to eat into the tax revenues the industry creates.”

Jeff Saunders, the group’s founder, said alcohol retailers are worried that unless they are allowed to sell cannabis, their revenues could suffer.

“Recreational marijuana sales have resulted in significant declines in wine and liquor sales in other states, resulting in job loss and even stores closing,” he said, according to the news outlet New York Upstate.

On the group’s website, New Yorkers who agree with the goal of allowing weed sales in liquor stores can send prewritten letters to their state lawmakers that describe the move an “obvious win-win opportunity for a bedrock industry of New York’s Main Street economies and the future of our state.”

The effort to shape how legalization could roll out comes as the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is taking steps to bring about the end of marijuana prohibition.

Earlier this year, Cuomo directed the state Health Department to study legalizing marijuana, a move that led to a report that found that doing so would have more benefits than risks.

State officials are conducting a series of listening sessions around the state on the topic, and the governor created a task force to draft legalization legislation that lawmakers can consider in 2019.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are already holding hearings on ways to end cannabis prohibition.

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Liquor Stores Want To Sell Marijuana

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

If it were up to voters, marijuana would be legal in New York.

In a new poll released Thursday, 63 percent in the state back ending cannabis prohibition, compared to just 32 percent who want to continue marijuana’s criminal status.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), for now, continues to oppose legalization but is showing signs of shifting his position on the issue amidst a primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, who is making the issue a centerpiece of her campaign.

In the new survey, conducted by Quinnipiac University, 71 percent of Democrats are on board with legalization.

When asked whether “someone who is black and uses marijuana is more likely to be arrested than someone who is white and uses marijuana,” 82 percent of Democrats agreed, while only 28 percent of Republicans acknowledged well-documented racial disparities in cannabis arrests.

While not yet endorsing legalization, Cuomo has ordered the state Department of Health to conduct a study on its effects in other states that have ended prohibition and its possible impact in New York.

Last week, a separate Quinnipiac poll found that 63 percent of U.S. voters support legalizing marijuana.

Record-High Support For Legal Marijuana, New Poll Shows

 

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Voters Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows

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