**This will be a multi-part series of posts**
Cannabis legalization has taken a very long and difficult journey in New York state. Since the 1970s, cannabis has been “decriminalized” with possession amounting to a $100 fine. Our current Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has also historically been against any cannabis legalization efforts and was also very slow to bring about a medical marijuana program.
Queue up the western states legalizing cannabis through voter referendum. The majority of these states have seen a windfall in taxes especially in Colorado where they are setting records with tax income solely from cannabis.
To much surprise, Cuomo announced that he has tasked the Department of Health to undergo an impact study of cannabis legalization as well as hold listening tours throughout the state to get input from voters.
The Department of Health findings were significant. The Dept. found that legalizing adult-use cannabis would be a net benefit for state health. The 75 page report is incredibly detailed, documented, and presents a clear picture of both the pro and con sides of marijuana legalization.
After the report came out, DoH officials went on a listening tour in select cities to voter input. I did attend and speak at the one that was closest to me, and let me tell you the kinds of crazy that came out were almost hilarious. At one point, a speaker got up and said that all drugs(even FDA approved ones) were going to be the cause for society to collapse in biblical proportions. Surprisingly, the police representative did not result to traditional prohibitionist fearmongering; he simply stated he feels a sober society is a safer society.
With all this positive momentum, Cuomo officially announced his support for legalized cannabis in the annual budget proposal. While there had been a legalization bill already in the NYS Senate titled the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, the budget proposal was a way for the measure to be forced. By law, the budget must be passed by April.
Stay tuned for part 2.