Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, instructed his specially appointed panel to move forward with drafting the legislation that will shape the recreational marijuana market in the State of New York. The panel has until Jan. 1st to get the legislation written, at which point it will need to be voted on and passed by legislators before being signed into law by Governor Cuomo.
2018-2019 is shaping up to be a landmark time in New York's history, especially if it ends with the full legalization of the plant so many New Yorkers have been using and relying on for years.
Back in January, it became clear that Governor Cuomo had a change of heart regarding marijuana. During his Executive Budget Address, Cuomo announced an undisclosed amount of funding towards a Department of Health study that would look into the effects of legalization in the State of New York as well as its neighbors. This study would also outline legalizations impact on law enforcement and whether people trafficking legal cannabis from New York to other states, known as "leakage", would be a legitimate concern. You can read about his January announcement as well as the outline and goals for the study here.
Fast forward to Friday, July 13th, when the results of that study were released. In its 74 page response, the Department of Health determined that the benefits of legalizing recreational marijuana would outweigh the negative consequences. It is important that the proper legal market is put in place for safety, with the hope of curbing the black market and finally ending the disproportionate amount of arrests that Black and Latino New Yorkers face on a daily basis. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, 93% of all marijuana related arrests were people of color.
New Yorkers are turning to synthetic marijuana as a cheap, readily available alternative to traditional marijuana and it has led to historic amounts of overdoses. Due to the fact that synthetic marijuana is not regulated and often filled with poison, many people get sick when they use it. Last May saw the height of this epidemic when 56 people overdosed in one day.
One of the biggest admissions in the Department of Health study, states that "Legalizing marijuana results in a reduction in the use of synthetic cannabinoids/novel psychoactive substances":
Department of Health Impact Study
It seems pretty clear that if nothing else, legalizing marijuana in New York has become a health issue. Many New Yorkers are sick and rely on the two most important compounds in the plant, THC and CBD, to treat a laundry list of ailments and its time that New York legislators give the people of New York what they want.