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Was it The New York Times calling for the complete legalization of recreational marijuana for adults? Was it the negative press focusing on the chronically ill children who have been needlessly dying in New York State since the state’s medical marijuana law was passed (as it has yet to be implemented)? Or was it something else entirely that inspired the soon-to-be-introduced bill that could legalized marijuana in New York?
It looks like the Empire State is ready to join in the green rush: State Senator Liz Krueger has announced her plans to introduce a bill in the next state senate session that would legalize cannabis for adults in the state. Kruger’s chief of staff, Brad Usher, confirmed to the Huffington Post yesterday that the senator will be introducing a bill in January not unlike the one she introduced in a previous session.
Usher stated plainly that this bill comes from a place of social justice and reform, not a desire to see an increase in cannabis consumption.
The real motivation [for Krueger’s upcoming bill] came from the disparate impacts of the drug war on different communities, how communities of color — especially in New York City — are facing large amounts of marijuana arrests based on these interpretations of existing law…While Krueger doesn’t smoke pot and doesn’t think anyone else should, she doesn’t think the policy of prohibition has been successful in controlling marijuana use, and [thinks] that it should be treated more as a public health issue. She doesn’t think you should drink either, but making alcohol illegal didn’t really work, and we should have learned that about marijuana as well.
The new bill has been amended to reflect information trickling out of Washington and Colorado regarding their recreational cannabis legalization process and their retail dispensary programs.
If the bill passes and becomes law, all adults in New York will be allowed to possess up to two ounces of dried cannabis and six cannabis plants (provided that they are cultivated for personal use). It would also create an excise tax on the retail sale of cannabis and marijuana products, which would be regulated by the New York State Liquor Authority.
Last time Krueger introduced a similar bill, it never made it out of committee. This time, however, Krueger and New York cannabis activists are cautiously optimistic that the political support is finally present to end the prohibition of marijuana in New York. While there is no word on if the governor will sign (he has previously intimated that he would not support a recreational cannabis program), the possibility of an override exists if there is sufficient support. Only time will tell.
Congratulations, New York, on having a senator with the intelligence and foresight to propose a bill that could make you one of the first states to re-legalize marijuana for adult use.
For previous Ladybud coverage of New York, its culture, and its laws, click here.
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