New York State Lawmakers Pass Bill to Legalize Marijuana

New York State Lawmakers Pass Bill to Legalize Marijuana

By Yehudit Garmaise

   Just hours after the New York state Senate passed a bill that would legalize marijuana and allow the licensing of dispensaries as early as next year, the New York state Assembly did the same. 

  The state Senate voted 40 to 23: with only three Democrats, including state Sen. Simcha Felder, voting against the bill. The state Assembly voted 100 to 49: with only 10 Democrats, including Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, voting against the legalization of marijuana.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign the bill and has 10 days to do so, opposed legalization as recently as 2017, when he voiced the opinion of many that marijuana is a drug to easily leads to much more serious drugs, however, the governor has since changed his position.

    Since the governor has been plagued by scandal, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also supports the bill, has accused Gov. Cuomo of making overly lenient decisions, such as re-opening fitness centers in the state too soon, to distract from his political woes.

   The legislation to legalize marijuana, which has long been known to kill brain cells, motivation, vitality, and judgment, is expected to raise $350 million annually from sales tax revenue: 20% of which bill sponsors Sen. Liz Kruger and Assembly Crystal Member Peoples-Stokes argue, without irony, that they will use to fight “anti-addiction efforts” and “reinvest in communities that have been most harmed by the decades-long war on drugs," the Times-Union reported.

   The legislation also claims that 40% of sales tax brought in by legal marijuana sales will benefit communities of color, which the bill’s sponsors say “were most harmed by the war on drugs.” The remaining 40% of tax revenue will be spent on education.

   Opponents of the measure also voiced concerns that the legalization of marijuana would increase traffic deaths, experimentation with harder drugs, addiction to marijuana, and children and other New Yorkers having to live under a perpetual haze of second-hand smoke. 

    Although Republicans were critical that the bill’s passage could lead to the distribution of the drug to minors and the revenue from the drug being used for criminal purposes, such as guns, gangs, and cartels, and the distribution of the drug to states where it is not legal, Democrats argue that that people of color are disproportionately punished for marijuana sales and use, which the bill's sponsors say is not worth the resources that it takes to enforce and prosecute.

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