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A Comic's View: Big Apple Gives Marijuana Green Light

By INIGO ‘NAUGHTY’ ZENICAZELAYA

IT HAS long been said about New York, that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Well it’s time to officially add marijuana to the list, because it is now legal recreationally in the great state of New York.

Gov Andrew M Cuomo signed the cannabis legislation on this past Wednesday, a day after the State Legislature passed the bill following hours of debate among lawmakers in Albany.

New York became the 15th state to legalise the recreational use of cannabis, positioning itself to quickly become one of the largest legal cannabis markets in the nation and one of the few states where legalisation is directly tied to economic and racial equity.

LEGALISED

New York’s cannabis advocates billed the legal marijuana programme in NYC the best in the nation.

One even calling it generational and the dawning of a new era for marijuana justice, after hard work and long odds.

Decades of legal jousting and tense manoeuvering finally culminated with the legalisation of adult use of marijuana on March 31, 2021.

Effective immediately in New York possession by adults of up to three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrate is now legal.

The NYPD which seems to enjoy stopping people and cars that allegedly smell of cannabis, can no longer use ‘the aroma’ as a reason for probable cause.

What is really sobering is that 94 percent of all marijuana arrests in New York affected African American, Hispanic or other people of colour in 2020.

This extremely troubling statistic may finally experience a long needed decline moving forward.

DECRIMINALISED

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) provides for automatic expungement or re-sentencing for anyone with a previous marijuana conviction that would now be legal under the law.

No courts, no judges, no lawyers, etc.

Automatic expungement. Period.

Also New York’s legalisation law stipulates that 40 percent of cannabis tax revenue will be reinvested in communities that have been unfairly targeted by cannabis enforcement laws in the war on drugs, a war that has long been considered racist.

Previous attempts to legalise marijuana were stymied over disagreements on how the tax revenue from legal marijuana sales would be distributed.

Melissa Moore, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, called New York’s MRTA a “new gold standard”.

“This law comprehensively addresses the harms of overcriminalisation and establishes one of the most ambitious marijuana legalisation programmes in the nation,” Moore stated passionately in a recent interview.

While tax revenue is not expected to exceed $350m until after the first year, New York could actually save more than $350m a year from the police budget, simply by not arresting people for possession of minor amounts of marijuana.

GREEN SPACES

New York will reportedly create public consumption spaces and pop up shops, and eventually catering licences will be available.

MEDS

The MRTA includes provisions to expand the state’s medicinal marijuana programme (MMJ) however for now, current regulations and programme operations will remain the same.

LICENCING

Similar to here at home in the Bahamas, the question of licence distribution has not been decided yet. New York’s new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) which is up and running, and is the body to keep an eye on in this regard.

In addition to information on which towns will be choosing to opt out of the programme, the Office of Cannabis will also eventually include a statewide dispensary locator.

The Cannabis Control Board will conduct a review two years after the first retail sale of cannabis to study the market share in the industry and make licensing adjustments to ensure equity. All while medical cannabis firms would be limited to only eight dispensaries each.

The bill passed the State Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 40 to 23 and the Assembly by a vote of 94 to 56.

Again further proof if it can make it there (New York) it can make it anywhere.

Hint, hint, Mr Prime Minister and the Marijuana Commission, it’s almost the perfect blueprint for us to follow.

Stop politicking and pass it, (the bill) before we miss out on a golden opportunity to flourish on multiple levels as a nation.

Comments

DDK 9 months, 2 weeks ago

The "I Love New York" logo soon gonna have a new leaf on its apple🤣👍😂

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