Since several American states have legalized marijuana after conducting referendums, a natural question arises in every mind: who will be next?
A lot of states may manage to prepare the marijuana ballot initiative in time for the 2016 election. But let us take a look at New York’s legalization process and the peculiarities of its development. Back in 2013, Senator Liz Krueger presented the bill called “The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act” to the state legislature. If it is successfully passed by all necessary legislative officials, it will allow entrepreneurs to get permissions for opening marijuana shops. Anyone who is 21 years and over would be able to buy a joint if they wanted to. Despite everything, illegal drug realization would be punished by the law with the utmost rigor.
As for medical marijuana, it was legalized here back in 2014, and possession of weed was decriminalized about 30 years ago. So as we can see, when it comes to weed, a large number of changes have already happened in New York.
Moreover, in 2013, after the announcement of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, it was established that the police could no longer arrest people who possessed less than 25 grams of marijuana. For the first offense, a $100 fine is to be issued. If the person is caught for the second time, the fine will rise to $200, but the person will not be taken into custody. It was quite a positive change, since only in 2013, the New York City police arrested 28,000 people for weed possession. The new rule allowed the police to focus on more serious infractions and saved thousands of people from imprisonment for something as small as a few grams of marijuana.
It should also be noted that the New York State decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot on private property 30 years ago, but the lack of clarity in the law allowed the police to arrest the people who were caught in a public place with marijuana.
There is also a common perception that in New York, there are certain racial disparities in the application of the law on drugs: despite the fact that white people use marijuana as often as the people of other races, 85% of arrests for drug possession are accounted for by African Americans and Hispanics. It is sad to admit it, but the racial factor is still present in our society.
Of course, there are good reasons to be skeptical about the probability of the legalization of marijuana in New York, but if it did happen, it would mean that a new era had come, and that it should not be long before we get to witness the legalization of marijuana on the federal level.