New York May Become Third State to Legalize Marijuana

What does New York have in common with Washington and Colorado? Nothing, yet. But a proposal has been brought to the attention of the legislature, which could potentially make marijuana legal in the state of New York.

New York state Senator Liz Krueger unveiled the proposal Wednesday morning, denouncing its prohibition as a “policy that just hasn’t worked.” She believes that the bill would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state of New York.

The Manhattan Democrat continued, “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.”

Krueger added, “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, formally known as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation act, would fully legalize and marijuana in the entire state, along with taxing the sale of marijuana. Krueger said that the bill “would establish an excise tax of $50 an ounce of marijuana and authorize localities to charge a sales tax on retail sales if they wish to.”

Additionally, towns and cities could opt out of marijuana sales if they so choose. The bill would limit purchases of 2 ounces or under, sold to those who are at least 21 years of age. However, the minimum age for possession and consumption of marijuana is 18 years of age. Krueger said that recent surveys have proven that it is easier for a high school student to buy marijuana than it is for them to buy beer or cigarettes.

This bill has been brought up three times now, in its third attempt at legalizing marijuana in New York state. Although proposals to legalize medicinal marijuana as well attempting to fix a decade-old marijuana decriminalization law were both approved by the state Assembly earlier this year, Senate was adjourned in June before any action on either matter was taken.

Since 1997, approximately 600,000 people have been arrested for possession of marijuana in the state of New York, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. In fact, more people are arrested for possession of marijuana in New York City than for any other offense.

Although Governor Andrew Cuomo has mixed feelings about legalizing marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, he did attempt to make possession of marijuana a violation rather than a misdemeanor.

A New York state law which has been in effect since 1977, possession of a small amount of marijuana is considered a minor offense, similar to jaywalking, whereas if someone is holding it or smoking it in view of the public, they may be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.

What do you think about this potential bill? What are your thoughts about legalizing marijuana?

Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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