New York about to legalize marijuana with progressive New Legal Weed Bill
New York City is home to 8 million people, at least half of whom are already practiced the art of smoking weed outside of the East Village dives while taxis splash trough water on their shoes. These are the same people who saw New Jersey legalize weeds in 2020. personal relationships with their dealers within the city limits. Now these New Yorkers have to decide whether to break these dealer ties and go overboard, because the state of New York – which, little known, extends far beyond the five boroughs to Canada – made it clear that recreational herbs are for adults 21 and over will be legalized as soon as possible and definitely in 2021.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that state lawmakers had reached an agreement that would pave the way for a bill that would allow New York to become the sixteenth state to decide to legalize recreational herbs in America – and the first who did this in 2021 it will take a long time.
New York’s path to this (mostly negotiated) conclusion serves as a masterclass on complications in legalizing marijuana. To sum it up, the state first seriously took up the idea of legalization in 2019, but was forced to agree on decriminalization – or reducing legal penalties for possession of the drug – when lawmakers considered how to spend potential tax revenue on a legal industry. When it became clear that legislation would not guarantee that any part of the funds would be reinvested in minority communities hardest hit by the war on drugs, some democratic lawmakers refused to vote in favor. Without these guarantees, the bill would not be progressive enough.
Legalization was back on the agenda in 2020, but then … you saw how 2020 went. (Still, four states, including New Jersey, made the leap to legality in last year’s elections. Voting initiatives offer an alternative route from the legislative journey forward, placing the decision in the hands of the electorate.)
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So in 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo again announced his intention to make weeds legal. Progressives urged him to pledge more social justice to ensure that all communities – not just the wealthy, venture-capital-funded, mostly white cohort that currently dominates the legal weed market in the U.S. – financially benefit from recreational sales in New York have benefited. Under the influence of marijuana, consideration was given to how to punish driving. Cuomo, who is currently trying to protect himself from sexual harassment complaints, refused to allow New Yorkers to grow their own bud, but lawmakers decided to cement legal home growing.
CNN reports that the final bill will give half of New York’s marijuana licenses to “social justice applicants” – in other words, minorities and women – and that the state will impose a 13 percent tax on recreational sales. According to the New York Times, New York will receive legal weed deliveries and “consumption points” – like bars and clubs, but for THC. Nothing is official yet, but it’s damn close; Legislators are not expected to vote on the legislation until next week at the earliest.
So it took a long time, but not without reason. For better or for worse – weeds for everyone! – with the legalization of marijuana, people are left behind, most of them BIPOC individuals, who cannot dig deep into investor pockets to raise the money it takes to enter the dazzling legal weed market. As Al Harrington, the former NBA star who is now one of the few blacks who run a marijuana business in America, told Esquire last month, he doesn’t want legalization “to come too soon” because if it does , then, “There is no protection for these small business owners.” It can potentially block them completely. “
While New York’s law is unlikely to be perfect – we don’t know what is perfect – at least it was designed with more than unconstrained cash flow in mind. When the last weed news hit the national psyche was punishing White House staff for previously doing pot or whatever (which practically felt feudal) and legalizing marijuana nationwide in Mexico (now we’re surrounded), at least we get this one good thing.
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