A New York senator has submitted a bill which would legalize recreational cannabis in the Empire State. State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) introduced the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) last week. The bill would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in a similar fashion to the state’s current system to regulate alcohol.
“Prohibition of marijuana is a policy that just hasn’t worked, no matter how you look at it, and it’s time to have an honest conversation about what we should do next,” Krueger said through a release. “The illegal marijuana economy is alive and well, and our unjust laws are branding nonviolent New Yorkers, especially young adults, as criminals, creating a vicious cycle that ruins lives and needlessly wastes taxpayer dollars. Worst of all, this system has resulted in a civil rights disaster: African Americans are dramatically more likely to be arrested for pot possession than whites, despite similar rates of marijuana use among both groups.”
The bill would remove penalties for the possession of less than 2 ounces of cannabis for those 18 and older, but would limit sales to those who are 21 and up. In addition, it would allow for home cultivation of up to six plants and would place a $50 excise tax per ounce of cannabis while also allowing localities to establish a sales tax on retail sales.
While New York is one of 14 states in the nation that has decriminalized cannabis, law enforcement has been highly criticized for abusing a loophole in the law that makes it misdemeanor to possess marijuana in “public view.” Legislation designed to reform this loophole passed in the Assembly on May 29, but did not advance to the Senate. In addition, a proposal to legalize marijuana for seriously ill patients also passed through the State Assembly, but was not brought to the Senate before the body adjourned in June.
Tell us in the comments below, what state do you think will be next to legalize cannabis?