Senator Liz Krueger announced the introduction of the bill on Wednesday. The City Comptroller estimates this can make the state $3 billion in revenue.
New York is following the path of Washington and Colorado with State Senator Liz Krueger announcing Wednesday that she will be introducing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. The bill would regulate marijuana using the same system the state currently uses for alcohol.
The bill will give the State Liquor Authority the ability to grant licenses for marijuana production, transport and retail sale. Communities will be able to opt in or out of retail sale for off-premise consumption through a referendum process similar to the standards of alcohol. The bill will also establish an excise tax of $50.00 per ounce of marijuana and allows local businesses to charge a sales tax. The revenue made will go to substance abuse programs, and job training programs to low-income, high unemployment communities.
If passed 18 will be the minimum legal age for possession and consumption. To sell it you would have to be 21. Anyone who currently has possession penalties of two ounces or less will have them removed. It will also allow the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants in your home.
“Prohibition of marijuana is a policy that just hasn’t worked, no matter how you look at it, and it’s time to have an honest conversation about what we should do next,” said Sen. Krueger. “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.”
In New York 97% of marijuana arrests are for possession. That number amounted to 100,000 arrests back in 2010. The enforcement of these laws has disproportionately affected minorities. Blacks have been arrested at seven times the rate of whites despite a government health survey which found whites use marijuana at a higher rate.
“On their face, the racial disparities in these statistics represent a grave injustice, while the sheer volume of arrests shows just how gross a waste of city and state resources our current policy has become. 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,” said Sen. Krueger.
According to the Federal Abuse and Mental Health Administration, of the 19.6 million in New York state, it’s estimated that 1.9 million New Yorkers have tried smoking marijuana in the past year. The City Comptroller estimates a New York state marijuana market could become a $3 billion industry.
Dr. Carl Hart, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University spoke in favor of the law from a health standpoint.
“As a neuropsychopharmacologist who has spent the past fifteen years studying the neurophysiological, psychological and behavioral effects of marijuana, I can tell you that the claims about the harms associated with marijuana use have been greatly exaggerated in the media,” Dr. Hart says. “Far greater harm results from arresting people for marijuana possession and the racial disparities of those arrests.”