Legislators in New York are hoping that the recent legalization of cannabis in Maine and Massachusetts will motivate the state’s legislative forces to take similar action in the 2017 session. Two bills (A3506 and S3040) were introduced in the New York General Assembly recently, and in the Senate targeted constructing a system that would allow cannabis to be regulated and taxed across the state in a fashion like alcohol. The ideas would enact the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.” This would give adults 18 and older the right to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow as many as six plants for personal use.

The proposal reads, “The intent of this act is to regulate, control, and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, generate millions of dollars in new revenue, prevent access to marijuana by those under the age of eighteen years, reduce the illegal drug market and reduce violent crime, reduce the racially disparate impact of existing marijuana laws, allow industrial hemp to be farmed in New York state, and create new industries and increase employment.” There are people who believe that the evolving cannabis laws in parts of New England might be enough to add pressure to state legislators in 2017 and get them to take the issue of marijuana reform a little more seriously than they have before.

It has been a year since the state put its medical cannabis program into play. However, the Cuomo administration seems to have opened its eyes to some of the issues surrounding the Compassionate Care Act. State health officials recently made some critical changes to the program, including adding chronic pain to its list of qualified conditions. Cuomo said last month that he intends to clarify the state’s decades old decriminalization law, a move intended to stop people from going to jail for simply holding a little marijuana. Cuomo stated, “The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety.” However, it’s likely that the idea of fully legalizing cannabis in New York will make the state’s law enforcement agencies a little worried and maybe cause them to put up some resistance.

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