Majority of New Yorkers approve marijuana legalization

62 Percent of New Yorkers approve cannabis legalization

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Legalize Cannabis in New York
Photo by: Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau

New Yorkers are telling Albany they want marijuana legalized.

A recent poll released by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation said that 62% of residents surveyed would be in favor of a bill which legalized marijuana.

It has been tried before, though. In 2013 a bill to legalize the herb was introduced, amended twice, but hasn’t gotten much further in the state’s legislature. Governor Andrew Cuomo has spoken against recreational cannabis, and will not support it. Supporters of the bill, however, are hoping that the latest poll results will show officials that voters just want to enjoy a little without getting in trouble with the law.

“It was a really encouraging result from our perspective, seeing that New Yorkers are fed up with prohibition,” said Melissa Moore, deputy state director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Proponents of legalization point out the positive impacts cannabis can have on the state’s economy. A smart taxation strategy can help erase a $4.1 billion budget deficit.

“New York could generate a large amount of revenue from a legalized, taxed and regulated model as we’re seeing in other states,” said state Senator Liz Krueger, who introduced the bill to legalize.

The majority of New York residents support the legalization of marijuana, according to new poll results.

She speaks the truth, eight states, and Washington, D.C. have legalized pot and are enjoying success. According to state data, Colorado alone has collected more than $200 million from pot tax this year, generating almost $600 million since legalization in 2014.

Legalizing recreational marijuana would stymie the arrests that disproportionately target minorities. In the past two decades, 800,000 arrests were made in the Empire State for possession of small amounts of pot. Over 700,000 of those were made in NYC, and 85% of those involved Latinos and African-Americans.

The Big Apple announced last year it would start issuing tickets for small possessions instead, but police still arrested just under 10,000 people for unlawful possession of marijuana by the start of the summer.

The bill is intended to include a provision which allows for the concealment of low-level arrests on people’s criminal history. According to Moore, this will be very helpful for people seeking employment but are hindered with this black stain on their record.

“It attempts to right the wrongs of prohibition, it would heal the records of those who have arrests,” she said.

Medical marijuana was allowed in New York in 2014, so some residents are smoking cannabis legally. The state has announced it will open five more dispensaries, bringing the total to 10 by 2018.

In the spring will come the hearings on the bill, Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, to bring recreational weed to the mighty Empire State. Supporters are optimistic that the positive economic outlooks will sway the Republican-controlled Senate.

“We make the argument based on marijuana prohibition being enormously costly. For the Republicans, it definitely resonates a little more,” said Moore. “All of the things people were concerned about haven’t panned out in terms of fears. The sky hasn’t fallen.”