NYC Council Pushes For Legalization

The New York City Council has included a historic legislative in its State Budget and Legislative Agenda for the 2015-2016 legislative session that calls for the state to both decriminalize and to tax and regulate marijuana.  This is the first time that marijuana decriminalization and legalization have been part of the Council’s official legislative agenda.  The Fairness and Equity Act and the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA) are designed to fix New York's marijuana policy by lessening the consequences of marijuana possession and distribution.

Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Robert Rodriquez sponsor the Fairness and Equity Act which is intended to end racially bias marijuana arrests by decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.  The New York City Council stated that the Act would “end the unnecessary and disproportionate arrests of Black and Latino New Yorkers by ensuring that possession or sharing of small amounts of marijuana can never result in a criminal penalty.”

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act is sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal People Stokes.  The Act would end prohibition by creating a system to regulate, control, and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older.  Not only would New York generate millions of dollars in new revenue, it would save millions of dollars in criminal justice resources every year.  The Council stated the MRTA would, "reduce the racially disparate impact of existing marijuana laws and end the cycle of branding nonviolent New Yorkers as criminals.”