NY To Legalize Recreational Cannabis In 2017?

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The recent legalization of recreational cannabis in the New England states of Maine and Massachusetts have some New York lawmakers anxious that legislative forces will be inspired by the change.

The New York General Assembly and in the Senate have received two bills aimed at creating a system that would allow marijuana to be taxed and regulated across the state in a manner similar to beer.  Proposals A3506 and S3040 will enact the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act,” which would give adults 18 and older the freedom to possess up to two ounces of weed and cultivate as many as six plants at home for personal use.  Also, it would create a legal cannabis industry allowing adults 21 and over to purchase marijuana products at retail dispensaries throughout the state.

An excerpt of the proposal reads:

“The intent of this act is to regulate, control, and tax marihuana in a manner similar to alcohol, generate millions of dollars in new revenue, prevent access to marihuana by those under the age of eighteen years, reduce the illegal drug market and reduce violent crime, reduce the racially disparate impact of existing marihuana laws, allow industrial hemp to be farmed in New York state, and create new industries and increase employment."

A year ago, New York adapted the most strict medical marijuana policy in the country however, Governor Cuomo and his administration have seemingly opened their eyes to some of issues surrounding the Compassionate Care Act.  Some significant changes have since been made to the act, including adding chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions.  

Last month, Cuomo stated that he intends to clarify the state’s decades old decriminalization law.  “The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety,” he said. 

Despite the 'high' hopes for recreational cannabis in New York, there are still some concerns with interstate drug trafficking with the legalization of Massachusetts, Maine and possibly the Empire State.  “We’re anticipating a problem in our border counties,” said Peter Kehoe, director of the New York Sheriff’s Association. “I know it is going to be attractive to some of our residents to go over there and come back stoned.”