Department of Health Report Brings New York One Step Closer to Legalization

For anyone that has been on the fence about the benefits of legalization, the full 74-page report drives home the value of putting an end to prohibition. “The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in NYS outweigh the potential negative impacts,” the report states. The report notes that incarceration has a negative impact on individuals as well as whole communities, and that criminal records can prevent individuals from accessing jobs, housing, and education opportunities.

The report also discusses some of the health benefits and risks of legalization. The Department of Health also points out that legal weed might reduce the use of synthetic cannabinoids, genuinely dangerous drugs that are growing in popularity throughout the state.

The report discusses a number of common fears regarding legalization, noting that other states that have created regulated retail markets have not seen an increase in either adult or youth use of cannabis. The issue of stoned driving is also considered, but the report notes that scientific evidence on the topic is “Varied.” In order to ensure public safety, a number of safeguards are recommended, including limiting sales to adults, cracking down on the black market, increasing research on ways to identify stoned drivers, and increasing public education with respect to cannabis use.

The report recommends that legal marijuana sales be taxed at a rate of 7 to 10%, and that personal use should be limited to one ounce. An ounce of weed usually sells for $270 to $340 on the state’s black market, which adds up to between $1.7 and 3.5 billion in illegal sales per year. It is further estimated that 1,290,000 New Yorkers would purchase weed in the first year of legalization, which could bring the state anywhere from $173 to $542 million annually, at the proposed tax rates. The former cannabis opponent did not openly say that he would sign a legalization bill into law, but did say that he did not expect such a bill to be finalized this year. In the meantime, Cuomo said that state lawmakers need to “Answer specifics” about legal weed.

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