By Justin Samuels
There is currently a strong push to make recreational marijuana legal in New York. Assemblywoman Peoples-Spoke and State Senator Krueger have written a bill to legalization recreational marijuana and will push hard for it next January when the state legislature returns to work after their annual six-month break. As public attitudes in New York have changed, the state has already legalized medical marijuana. After first only allowing medical marijuana to be used for very few conditions, New York in the middle of 2017 expanded the list of medical marijuana certifications. Recent polls have indicated the majority of New Yorkers are now ready for marijuana to be legalized. The medical profession in New York is now doing research on medical applications of cannabis. Past prohibition of marijuana and other drugs meant that the medical profession could not do research on the medical applications of these drugs in treating a variety of physical and mental conditions. As prohibition ends, the medical profession is now free to expand research on the use of cannabis (and eventually on other drugs that are decriminalized or legalized). This research will save lives and improve the quality of lives for many people. And as marijuana is easily grown and processed, it is a cheap drug to use to treat a variety of conditions.
The legalization of medical marijuana in NYC was problematic, as initially there were too few licenses dispensaries and astronomical prices made the use of medical marijuana not viable for the majority of New Yorkers. Peoples-Spokes and Krueger wish to have recreational marijuana so New Yorkers can purchase safe marijuana for recreational and medical usage. Allowing legal purchases of recreational marijuana (and for that matter other drugs) takes money away from organized crime and gives states tax revenues.
Already New York has expanded the number of companies that may sell marijuana, and each company approved to sell marijuana may now operate up to four dispensaries. Though the sale of buds is technically still illegal in New York, a number of new smoke and vape shops are now opening in New York as marijuana use comes out of the closet into the mainstream. The pending legalization of recreational marijuana isn’t just limited to New York. New York’s neighboring state, New Jersey has a state legislature already interested in legalizing medical marijuana. Governor Christie, who is opposed to legalization, has six months left on his term. Assuming the Democratic candidate wins marijuana will be legal in New Jersey. This has enormous economic and political implications through metropolitan New York, as many towns in New Jersey are suburbs of New York City. Both states stand to gain considerable tax revenues, and both states will save money in the criminal justice reform as marijuana users are not subject to arrest. New Jersey’s bill on legalization is inspired by Colorado’s. Legalization of recreational use, along with expanded use of marijuana as a painkiller is seen as a way to reduce opioid abuse and overdoses.