New York joins 14 other US states and the District of Columbia where marijuana use is already permitted, passing a law legalising its use for recreational purposes.
It states that adults 21 years of age or older may purchase cannabis in a cannabis shop and grow up to six plants at home for personal use. The time allowed for medical use of the drug is also increased to 60 days, from 30 days previously.
The bill’s explanatory statement explains that “marijuana prohibition has compromised thousands of New Yorkers through the criminal justice process for non-violent offences, denied many the fundamental right to participate in the democratic and electoral system, and inhibited the ability of otherwise law-abiding citizens to access housing, student loans, employment opportunities and other vital services”.
New York State will automatically expunge convictions of individuals sanctioned for marijuana-related offences.
The law raises the new limit for personal possession to 85 grams.
In addition to social goals, the choice has economic and fiscal objectives: less drug enforcement would bring substantial savings that could be diverted to health policies in times of pandemic.
Liberalisation would also generate new jobs and more tax revenue. The State will in fact impose a 9% tax on retail sales, which could generate up to 350 million in tax revenue a year.