As cannabis legalization for medical purposes and adult-use have advanced state by state across the nation, a familiar pattern has emerged: states with the initiative process are the earliest pioneers while those depending upon legislators lag behind and end up passing more restrictive laws. While New York may lag behind 15 other states (and Washington DC), the Empire State seems to be on the verge of passing a rather progressive legalization law, as The New York Times reports:
The deal would allow delivery of the drug and permit club-like lounges or “consumption sites” where marijuana, but not alcohol, could be consumed, according to details obtained by The New York Times. It would also allow a person to cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home, indoors or outdoors, for personal use.
If approved, the first sales of legal marijuana are likely more than a year away: Officials must first face the daunting task of writing the complex rules that will control a highly regulated market, from the regulation of wholesalers and dispensaries, to the allocation of cultivating and retail licenses, to the creation of new taxes and a five-member control board that would oversee the industry.
The deal was crafted with an intense focus on making amends in communities impacted by the decades-long war on drugs. Millions of dollars in tax revenue from cannabis sales would be reinvested in minority communities each year, and a sizable portion of business licenses would be reserved for minority business owners.
If The Times is correct, New York’s legalization law will likely reverberate across the nation and even the world since the state is an international media and financial powerhouse. Other states, especially those sharing a border, will certainly be influenced to move towards ending prohibition more quickly, and even Oregon advocates, looking to pass the Cannabis Equity Act, a bill that includes licensed cannabis cafes and social equity provisions, could receive a boost as well.
Additionally, the race to be the next mayor of the Big Apple could add to the growing drug decriminalization movement, especially regarding psilocybin mushrooms, as New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang recently stated, “I’m for legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, and I’m open to the public policy impact of legalizing other substances.”
Regardless of whether Yang wins, a serious New York City mayoral candidate with a positive position on drug policy is great for our movement to end the failed and harmful Drug War. Of course, Oregon has helped move the national debate on psilocybin and other drugs, something that Beaver State voters can be proud of. As we have seen with cannabis, success begets success, and advancements across the nation, both at the state and local level, help advocates build upon victories as we chip away at the War on Drugs.