State Department of Health favors legalizing weed

Report from NY health officials calls for pot legalization

Report from NY health officials calls for pot legalization

The report predicts that legalizing marijuana could reduce opioid dependency while eliminating criminal penalties that disproportionately impact minorities.

The state Legislature would have to approve any law legalizing marijuana for recreational use in NY.

The report is notable for its full-throated adoption of arguments that have been put forth by legalization supporters for years. It acknowledges that marijuana is less harmful than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, and that legalization and regulation is the best way to mitigate the harm posed by use of the drug.

The report also found that a regulated market would cut costs related to policing and prosecution and could deliver millions of dollars in tax revenue.

If New York were to allow recreational use, it would be following in the footsteps of other states that started out by legalizing medical use of the drug, as New York did in 2014.

The study represents something of an about-face on marijuana policy for ny, which has lagged behind a number of its neighbors, including Vermont, Massachusetts and Canada on marijuana policy.

Beyond the tax incentive, Cuomo faces political pressure: his challenger for the governship, Cynthia Nixon, has won legions of fans for her support of legal marijuana.

"Now that the report has been released and its conclusions presented, we are hopeful that the governor and the Legislature can shift from the "if" to examining the "how" to legalize marijuana", Chris Alexander, policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. The state didn't have a medical marijuana policy until 2014, almost two decades after California voters approved the nation's first medical marijuana law in 1996. "In 2018, in a blue state like NY, marijuana shouldn't be an issue", Nixon said in an April campaign video.

A May Quinnipiac poll of NY voters found that 63 percent supported "allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use".

Roughly 15 percent of New Yorkers over the age of 12 already use marijuana in any given year, according to federal survey data. "It has become less a question of whether to legalize but how to do so responsibly", the authors write.