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New York Department of Health Backs Marijuana Legalization

Published July 18, 2018
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In a big report to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, The New York Department of Health seems to be in favor of legalizing marijuana for adults for recreational use. The 75 page report basically shows that although there are of course cons to legalizing marijuana, the pros far outweigh them.  While the 75 page report touched on many different points of view, here are some of the key points:

  1. Criminalization “has not curbed marijuana use despite the commitment of significant law enforcement resources.”
  2. New York state’s hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests and prosecutions over the past two decades “have disproportionately affected low-income communities of color” even though these communities aren’t significantly more likely to use pot — backing similar findings from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Sentencing Project.
  3. Legalization would let the state “better control licensing, ensure quality control and consumer protection, and set age and quantity restrictions.”
  4. It would also provide tax revenue to the state, estimated at $248.1 million to $677.7 million in the first year. The extra money could help support various state programs, from education to health care.
  5. Legalization does not appear to, so far, lead to a significant increase in marijuana use in the states that have adopted the policy. But regulators should keep an eye on potential trends, the report said: “A regulated marijuana program should monitor and document patterns of use to evaluate the impact of legalization on use.”
  6. Marijuana may reduce opioid overdose deaths. This finding references earlier research that suggests states with medical marijuana have fewer opioid overdose deaths, although some experts caution that the studies still aren’t very strong and there are more proven evidence-based policy solutions for fighting the opioid epidemic.
  7. There are some risks to marijuana, including addiction, potential mental health problems, and car crashes involving drugs. Many of these risks were documented in a comprehensive report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

New Yorkers can already obtain marijuana if they have their New York Medical Marijuana Card. However, if they do decide to legalize marijuana for adult use, they would more than likely become the 3rd largest marijuana economy in the world behing California and Canada.

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