Is New York Next for Legal Recreational Marijuana?

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Legal recreational marijuana in New York state could be a reality as early as next year.

New York Sen. Liz Kreuger (D) has announced plans to reintroduce the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act at the next legislation session in January. Under the proposal, retail marijuana dispensaries would be approved and then regulated by the State Liquor Authority. An excise tax would also be placed on all marijuana sales, while adults could also have up to six marijuana plants at their home and possess up to two ounces for personal use.

The bill was introduced at the last legislative session this January, but was widely panned and seen as unrealistic. But earlier this summer, New York became the 23rd state in the U.S. to allow for legal medicinal marijuana use. She has also tailored the bill to make it similar to the legalization laws that were made official in Colorado and Washington.

“I knew we needed to move medical marijuana into law before people would focus on the bigger question – tax and regulation,” said Krueger. “So I think my legislative proposal fits in very nicely with what the state has already committed to move forward with.”

Kreuger does not smoke marijuana herself, and said that she does not condone people using it. However, she has called the state’s current marijuana prohibition a failure and believes “it’s a win-win to decriminalize marijuana and regulate it and tax it.” Kreuger also slammed New York City’s disproportionately high number of marijuana arrests compared to other major cities, roughly 30,000 to 50,000 each year between 2002 and 2012, in addition to African-Americans and Latinos accounting for 87 percent of those arrests.

We have spent decades attempting to do prohibition and a war on drugs that has actually done nothing and is particularly ruining the lives of young people of color.”-Liz Kreuger

“We have spent decades attempting to do prohibition and a war on drugs that has actually done nothing and is particularly ruining the lives of young people of color,” she said. [It has] them go into the criminal justice system and come out with the kind of citations that limit their access to financial aid for college, and exposes them to a criminal justice system…for simply using a drug that is proved to be less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco.”

Krueger isn’t the only legal marijuana advocate to make headlines in recent weeks, though. The police chief of Madison, Wisconsin, Mike Koval, has spoken out for legalizing pot to help fund drug treatment programs for “harder” substances throughout the state. And last Sunday, Alaskan television reporter Charlo Greene went viral after hilariously quitting her job on the air in order to continue running the Alaska Cannabis Club and continue pushing for legal marijuana in the state.

Related: Will Marijuana Prohibition Save the World?

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