Will this be the year that New York State legalizes marijuana? That will be on the minds of participants in this Saturday’s Cannabis Parade and Rally, the longest-running public event in support of cannabis legalization in New York City.
Meanwhile, legislators in Albany are considering the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) to responsibly regulate cannabis for adult use and comprehensively address the negative impacts of marijuana prohibition in the state. The MRTA would create the framework for a legal and well-regulated industry that will better restrict minors’ access to marijuana – while also centering equity and generating millions in tax revenue to bolster the state economy and reinvest in communities that have been most harmed by New York’s failed marijuana policies.
In the last twenty years New York held the dubious distinction of being the marijuana arrest capitol of the country, with more than 800,000 arrests made just for possession of small amounts – which was decriminalized in 1977. Nearly 80% of those arrested have been people of color, even though drug use occurs at similar rates across racial and ethnic groups.
“Responsibly regulating and taxing marijuana presents the Governor and the Legislature with a concrete way to create new jobs, increase economic activity, fund education and communities, support family farmers, and drive tourism across the state,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director for Drug Policy Alliance, who will speak at 3pm at Saturday’s rally in Union Square. “Legislators in Albany have had six years to study the specifics of marijuana legalization as laid out in the MRTA. In the meantime, people are arrested daily for marijuana possession – mostly people of color – with potential lifelong consequences including lack of access to jobs, housing and student loans; and even children being taken away. The time for squabbling over details is over – we need action from the Democratic majority. Marijuana legalization needs to pass during this legislative session. Period.”
When & Where: Saturday, May 4:
Crain’s New York Business recently reported that an adult-use cannabis industry in New York could directly employ from 21,000 to 43,000 workers, generating a total economic output of $4.1 billion and attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment.