This legislation would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana under state law along lines similar to the state’s current system regulating alcohol, and would represent a new approach for New York State after decades of costly, counterproductive policies that have produced racially discriminatory outcomes.
In brief, the bill:
- -Removes penalties for possession of 2 ounces of marijuana or less;
- -Makes 18 the minimum legal age for marijuana possession and consumption;
- -Establishes that smoking marijuana in public and possession of marijuana by persons under the age of 18 are violations;
- -Allows for home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants;
- -Empowers the State Liquor Authority to grant licenses for marijuana production, transport and retail sale;
- -Prohibits sale of marijuana to persons under 21;
- -Allows communities to opt out of retail sale for off-premises consumption through a referendum process similar to what is now in place for alcohol sales;
- -Allows communities to opt in to allow retail sales for on-premises consumption through a vote of the local legislature, in addition to the local c
- -Community board in the case of New York City;
- -Establishes an excise tax of $50.00 per ounce of marijuana, and authorizes localities to charge a sales tax on retail sales; and
- -Directs a portion of the state tax revenue collected to be directed to re-entry programs, substance abuse programs, and job training programs in low-income, high-unemployment communities.
There is no reason nor benefit to the current prohibition of marijuana. It is an antiquated law that is not founded on any reasonable grounds. Supporters of prohibition say that marijuana should be illegal on "moral principles", but keeping it illegal is the definition of immoral. Because of its illegality, there is a thriving black market that caters to anyone that has money; there is no discrimination between an adult consumer and a minor. Teenagers have said that it is easier to purchase illegal marijuana than it is to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. Why? Because the government has stepped in and issued sensible rules that prohibits minors from acquiring such things easily.
Furthermore, aside from arguments of morality, the legalization and taxation of marijuana makes sense monetarily. According to some sources the New York State marijuana market could represent as much as a $3 billion industry. In addition to added revenue, the State and the taxpayers will save money in law enforcement costs, whose efforts can be directed towards more violent and dangerous criminals.
The constituents of this great State will not sit idly by and let such an important issue be referred to as a "non-starter". We find it appalling that the Governor himself won't even consider the arguments presented before him. It is our hope that the legislature will prevail and at the very least have an educated discussion on the matter at hand, especially and such a time when other states have had their discussion, and ended their prohibition.