Unfortunately, the full legalization and commercialization of recreational marijuana is a topic of intense interest to Albany politicians in 2021.
Legislators who support marijuana legalization see several benefits to the proposal. First, pot legalization would bring in tax revenue for politicians to spend. Second, it would ingratiate Albany politicians with several interest groups, including progressives and criminal justice reform advocates. Third, legalization could yield an influx of campaign donations from the marijuana industry.
While marijuana legalization might very well help politicians, it would hurt the rest of us. Harms associated with recreational marijuana legalization include increased traffic accidents and public health challenges, as well as the continued presence of illegal trafficking in marijuana.
At this time, there are two major marijuana proposals in the Legislature. The first is the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (Bill S.854-Krueger/A.1248-Peoples-Stokes), and the second is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal, which is included in the proposed New York State Budget (Bill S.2509-Budget/A.3009-Budget—Part H). Democrats in the State Legislature differ with the Governor regarding how the tax revenue derived from marijuana sales should be spent. While the Governor wishes to use the funds to help close the state’s budget deficit, some legislators desire to have some of the funds “set aside for Black and Latino communities afflicted by the war on drugs.”