New York to Consider Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use
New York State Senator Liz Krueger has introduced a bill that would legalize possession and use of marijuana and regulate it similar to the way that alcohol is regulated within the state. The bill would allow any adult over 18 years of age to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and any adult over 21 years of age to purchase marijuana.
“Prohibition of marijuana is a policy that just hasn’t worked, no matter how you look at it, and it’s time to have an honest conversation about what we should do next,” Senator Krueger said in a statement to the media. “The illegal marijuana economy is alive and well, and our unjust laws are branding nonviolent New Yorkers, especially young adults, as criminals, creating a vicious cycle that ruins lives and needlessly wastes taxpayer dollars.
The senator noted that the state and New York City waste significant amounts of money to enforce marijuana laws. Krueger cited that 97 percent of New York’s 100,000+ annual marijuana arrests are for mere possession. She went on to note that the laws tend to disproportionately hurt African-American and Hispanic communities. “On their face, the racial disparities in these statistics represent a grave injustice, while the sheer volume of arrests shows just how gross a waste of city and state resources our current policy has become,” she said. “We’re spending taxpayer money to ruin lives, disproportionately for those from communities of color, with no real public policy goal to be found in any of it.”
The bill that Senator Krueger has proposed would set the minimum age at 18 for possession and 21 for purchase. It would also permit any adult to have up to six marijuana plants in their home and possess up to two ounces of marijuana. The state’s Liquor Authority would be tasked with giving out licenses for production and sales of marijuana, just like they do with alcohol.
The bill would allow individual towns, as well as individual community boards throughout New York City, to opt out and continue to keep marijuana out. The government would tax marijuana at $50 per ounce and direct much of that money to substance abuse programs and job training programs in impoverished communities.
(Image courtesy of Matthew Kenwrick)