New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

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New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law this week that legalizes recreational marijuana.


With this legislation, New York becomes the 15th state to remove legal penalties for the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. The other states that have done so are Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Most of the legalization efforts succeeded through ballot measures approved by voters, but state legislators are beginning to embrace this cause, too.


Under this law, New Yorkers who are 21 and older can grow and possess marijuana for any use. With the law's effect, only 3 ounces of marijuana are legal. When the new regulatory system becomes established, that will increase to 5 pounds. Individuals who were convicted of marijuana-related crimes will have their records expunged. The state will impose a 9% tax on marijuana products and local governments can impose a 4% tax.


Supporters of legalization say that marijuana prohibition hurts minority communities, giving many young men a criminal record and hurting their chance of success later in life. They say that legalizing and regulating the drug will keep people out of jail, with the taxes on marijuana products being used for health care and other government services. Opponents of legalization contend that marijuana is a gateway drug. They argue that legalization will lead to increased use of marijuana, which will have significant harms for society.


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