New York State legalizes recreational cannabis in bid to stop racial marginalization

·2-min read
Representative image
Representative image

New York [US], March 31 (ANI/Sputnik): New York has become the 15th state in the United States to legalize adult-use of recreational marijuana after years of discourse that the ban discriminates against communities of colour, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

"For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of colour with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public," Cuomo said in a statement on Tuesday.

The legislation was passed in a 100-49 vote in the Assembly, with Democrats in the lead.

According to the New York Police Department, black and Latino New Yorkers made up 94 per cent of marijuana-related arrests in 2020, even though statistics showed that the number of white New Yorkers consuming cannabis was considerably higher.

Cuomo called the legalization of cannabis history and "the first major leap forward for the Empire State." He also said that New York has a history of being "the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry that legacy."

The legalization of cannabis in New York comes after the same move in the state of New Jersey and is estimated to bring annual tax revenues of $350 million a year as well as 60,000 jobs once the industry is established.

In addition, the bill will wipe out criminal records of thousands of people, bring revenue reinvestment in communities of colour by 40 per cent and allow 50 per cent of adult-use licenses to social equity applicants and small business.

The New York state governor expressed his excitement about signing the legislation into law.

At the same time, concern over the new legislation was expressed by police groups as well as the New York Parent-Teacher Association. An education and prevention campaign will be set in motion as a means to reduce the risk of marijuana consumption among school children. A study will additionally be launched to examine the plant's effect on driving. (ANI/Sputnik)