New York state legislators this week opened up the idea of fully legalizing marijuana to their constituents.

A public hearing aired the pros and cons of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which would tax and regulate cannabis, alcohol-style, for those 21 and older in the Empire State.

Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyperson Crystal Peoples presided over the forum. Kassandra Frederique, Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, was all for it. She said:

There is no question that New York’s marijuana policies are broken. Each year, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are swept into the maze of the criminal justice system for nothing more than possessing small amounts of marijuana. Enforcement of these policies is focused almost entirely focused on young people, primarily young people of color, such that our laws are now applied differently to different people based on the color of their skin and their income level – this must stop.

New York has come a long way in 2014. It passed a narrow medical marijuana bill, and New York City police announced that holding a small amount of weed would essentially result in just a ticket instead of jail time.

Still, the Drug Policy Alliance says there’s a long way to go. gabriel sayegh, Managing Director of Policy & Campaigns at the DPA, says:

New York made small progress earlier this year when it passed a medical marijuana bill, though that bill was narrowed considerably before passage and patients continue to suffer without access to the medicine they need. The legislature in Albany is now considering the Fairness and Equity Act, which seeks to address the problem of marijuana arrests in New York. They should pass that bill immediately. But for all the strengths decriminalization, it leaves prohibition intact. New Yorkers have suffered long enough under this failed system of prohibition. New York needs to catch up with other states and tax and regulate marijuana.

About The Author

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Raul Duke has been working as a journalist in Southern California for two decades. The medical marijuana juggernaut is one of his many beats. He's a longtime Westside resident who needs to renew his doctor's recommendation soon. If you have news tips, reach out: raul@the420times.com

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