The future of cannabis legalization in New York

The New York Senate and Assembly are likely to support recreational cannabis legalization in NY, noted The Times

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The future of cannabis legalization in New York

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced his goal for the beginning of next year: recreational cannabis legalization in NY.

If his desires materialize, the market could generate $1.7 billion for the economy, not to mention trigger numerous new cannabis industry investment and business opportunities.

Based on a report from the New York Times, Cuomo revealed his plans for NY’s adult-use cannabis market amidst a recent speech, during which he discussed what issues would be addressed during the initial 100 days of his third term.

Cuomo’s hopes of freeing the weed seem to emerge after he commissioned a state health department report earlier this year that discovered the “significant … economic benefits” of recreational cannabis legalization in NY.

Here’s an overview of information contained within the report on recreational cannabis legalization in NY:

  • Annual black market cannabis purchase are believed to be between 6.5 million-10.2 million ounces.
  • After the first year of recreational cannabis legalization in NY, the city’s health department estimates that approximately 1.3 million New Yorkers will become consumers.
  • The $1.7 billion valuation of NY’s recreational cannabis industry was calculated from an average retail price of $270 per ounce.
  • State and local tax revenue could range from $248.1 million-$677.7 million, with a tax rate ranging from 7-15 percent.

Could we be on the cusp of cannabis reform in New York?

Since 1977, personal possession of fewer than 25 grams of cannabis has been decriminalized in New York State.

Notwithstanding, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) claims that law enforcement officers have been busy clasping handcuffs on approximately 800,000 people over the past 20 years for minor cannabis possession offenses, making New York the cannabis arrest capital of the world.

On a positive note, the Times added that the New York Senate and Assembly are likely to support recreational cannabis legalization.

Patients struggle to access medical cannabis in New York

Back in 2014, the Compassionate Care Act was signed into law by the governor, kick-starting New York State’s Medical Cannabis Program. In spite of the state’s medical cannabis industry being launched in 2016, when it became the 23rd U.S. state to do so, patients are not finding it easy to get their hands on pharmaceutical-grade bud.

Legal adult-use weed in New York could be beneficial for more than just the recreational consumers. A burdensome and restrictive program that has been heavily condemned for its prohibitive approach, NY’s medical cannabis program hasn’t exactly made life simple for patients in need of cannabis.

Even with the commitment of the DPA, which is working hard to grant patients access to medicinal-grade cannabis medicines, expectations have still not been met. 

Perhaps if adult-use cannabis was available to purchase and consume, problems faced by patients could be overcome and recreational consumers could unwind without unnecessary repercussions.

Recreational cannabis legalization in NY could be on the horizon for 2019, if the governor gets his way.