Legalization in NY Delayed Over Revenue Disagreements
Cannabis Legalization in NY Delayed Over Revenue Disagreements
The legalization of adult-use cannabis in New York is currently stalled by disagreements over revenue. However, there is the possibility for a compromise in the coming weeks as Governor Cuomo is expected to introduce changes to the budget proposal, which includes the legalization of cannabis, and Senate Democrats also plan to release the latest version of their own legalization bill.
Last year, NY made its first steps towards legalization by expanding the state’s decriminalization policy and expunging records of low-level possession offenders.
Legalization didn’t go any further than that, though. Negotiations broke down amid discussions over the finer points of the bill — namely, how the state can offer support to minority communities that have been hit the hardest by the recent war on drugs.
Even though these issues are still unresolved, Cuomo’s administration is optimistic that this will be the year that New York legalizes adult-use of cannabis.
Gov. Cuomo is insistent on passing the legalization bill through the budget, due April 1, saying that this is the best way to allow recreational cannabis use in the state.
Activists oppose the plan, arguing that it is not specific enough and that its implementation relies too much on criminal penalties, rather than civil fines.
They also believe that tax revenue could be put to better use by providing disadvantaged groups with legal services and drug treatment, as well as with more possibilities for job development.
Meanwhile, budget debates in Albany have not impacted arrest rates in the state. Cannabis continues to remain illegal, and blacks and Latinos are still more likely to get charged with possession than whites.
If the bill is passed, New York will become the 12th US state to legalize cannabis use (cannabis is still illegal on a federal level) and possibly reap the economic benefits experienced by other states, such as Colorado and Washington. It would also allow New Yorkers legal access to a recreational drug that studies show is less harmful than opioids and alcohol consumption.