Although many people consider the use of marijuana harmless, the fact of the matter is that recreational use is still against the law in New York. However, some lawmakers are attempting to change this.
As WHEC reports, two Democrats in the state legislature, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo and Senator Liz Krueger from Manhattan, have introduced legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. The lawmakers have a plan to regulate and tax recreational pot, and they believe this could people from entering the criminal justice system unnecessarily. According to a study from the ACLU, there is not much difference in the rate of marijuana use between black and white people, but black people are more than three times as likely to be arrested for their use than white people. However, as citizens of New York are not able to vote marijuana legalization into law with a ballot measure, as the eight states who chose to legalize did, so any change to the law must be made the legislature and the governor. The bill will not have a vote until the session begins again in January, if that, as Governor Andrew Cuomo has not been vocally in favor of legalizing pot.
Yet advocates for legalization may see a ray of hope. The Daily News reports that former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato has been hired by the marijuana lobbying organization, the Marijuana Policy Project. Although the MPP is focusing their efforts in New York primarily on the more newly established medical marijuana program, they have not ruled out working towards legalizing recreational pot use. The ex-senator was formerly against the use of marijuana, so many were surprised to see him signing on to help the MPP.