In total, nine states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana at varying levels. Marijuana is already legal for medical purposes in New York.
A majority of New Yorkers support legal, regulated marijuana for adults. Yet Gov. Cuomo doesn’t have a strong record of supporting drug policy reform, however The Health Department’s assessment of the impact of legal weed breaks the issue down into key areas. It presents strong evidence of the benefits of legalizing and regulating cannabis.
The New York Department of Health last week backed legalizing marijuana for recreational use in a 75-page report, that ultimately concluded that the pros outweigh the cons for legalization. Numerous New York state agencies and subject matter experts in the fields of public health, mental health, substance use, public safety, transportation, and economics worked in developing this assessment. No insurmountable obstacles to regulation of marijuana were raised.
The report provides data about how legal cannabis impacts health. Among other benefits, it found that marijuana may reduce deaths from opioids and reduce opioid prescriptions. It also shows how regulating marijuana can help rid New York of its dangerous synthetic cannabis problem. In terms of the social benefits of cannabis, the assessment also supports american actress Cynthia Nixon’s arguments that legalizing marijuana is an indispensable first step toward ending disproportionate incarceration and criminalization of racial and ethnic minority groups in New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who in the past opposed the policy change but now appears to be moving closer to supporting it. Cuomo announced the state legalization study in January. He’s been under pressure to support legalization in part due to Cynthia Nixon’s gubernatorial campaign, which has repeatedly attacked Cuomo from the left — including through its support for legalization. It’s unclear if the report will be enough to sway Cuomo. But some states neighboring New York already have taken the plunge. Massachusetts legalized marijuana possession and sales through a ballot initiative in 2016. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed a law earlier this year legalizing marijuana possession, but not sales, in the state. And New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is publicly pushing for fully legalizing pot.
Legalizing weed will also boost New York’s economy, the assessment found. Creating jobs, generating long-term cost savings, and driving substantial revenue through taxation. The New York report comes in the middle of a very big year for marijuana legalization, from Canada legalizing pot to California opening the world’s largest cannabis market. If New York followed suit, it could become the world’s third-largest marijuana market after California and Canada.