Map of states with legalized Marijuana use. Image via Wikimedia Commons user Lokal_Profil
While Amsterdam may have tightened the reigns on marijuana sales this year, New York City may finally live up to its namesake of being the “New Amsterdam.” According to a press release from Senator Liz Krueger’s office, Krueger has announced the introduction of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). The bill has not gone through the legislative process yet, but if it passes, marijuana will be legalized in New York State, making it the 20th state to legalize.
This legislation would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana under state law, similar to our current policies with alcohol. WIth marijuana, however, 18 is the minimum legal age for marijuana possession and usage. However, the minimum legal age for purchase is 21. The bill would also allow for people to grow the plant in their own homes. In New York City, it would also allow “communities to opt in to allow retail sales for on-premises consumption through a vote of the local legislature, in addition to the local community board.” Amsterdam-style coffee shops anyone?
The bill would place a $50 tax per ounce of marijuana, and a portion of the tax revenue will be directed towards substance abuse programs and job training programs in low-income communities.
Senator Krueger proposed this legislation because she contends that the prohibition of marijuana “simply doesn’t work.” According to US census data, 12.2% of New Yorkers use marijuana. That translates to a $3 billion dollar industry if legalized.