New York State legalizes recreational use of marijuana

The governor of New York state on Wednesday signed an overnight law legalizing recreational marijuana. New York thus joins 14 other American states where an adult can smoke a joint without being worried by the police.

The New York law, adopted thanks to the Democratic majorities in the two chambers of the Parliament of this state of some 20 million inhabitants, goes further than those endorsed by other states, and is intended as a model of social justice: it plans to distribute part of sales revenues – some 350 million dollars per year, for a tax of 9% – to communities with large black and Latino populations, the most affected by the crackdown on cannabis use.

It also plans to systematically purge the criminal records of people who had been convicted of acts which, with the new law, will no longer be considered as criminal.

“Historical legislation”

“For too long, the cannabis ban has disproportionately targeted people of color with heavy prison sentences,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“I am proud that this vast reform addresses the issues of social equity, security and the economic impact of adult cannabis use,” added the governor, very weak in recent weeks after a series of accusations of sexual harassment .

“This landmark legislation does justice to long marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy and establish substantial safeguards for the public,” he added. New York estimates that between 30,000 and 60,000 jobs could be created thanks to this law.

Application not before 2022

Once all the implementing decrees are in place and the first dispensaries open – which is not expected until 2022 – the law will allow adults 21 and over to buy cannabis and grow plants at home for their own benefit. personal consumption.

The law also removes the penalties for possession of three ounces of the drug (85 grams), the new personal possession limit. And the program that allowed for the distribution of medical marijuana will be expanded.

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Democratic leader in the US Senate, New Yorker Chuck Schumer thanked lawmakers behind the text, and assured that he will “continue to work to end the ban on marijuana at the federal level “.

If the New York law was applauded by many elected Democrats, the elected Republican generally opposed it. Some, including the Parent Teacher Association of New York State, a powerful association of teachers and parents, fear that the law may make it easier for children and adolescents to access cannabis.

Others are worried about an increase in road accidents: while the law prohibits driving under the influence of cannabis, the test which will allow a reliable test, on the model of the breathalyzer, does not yet exist , although research should accelerate.

ats, afp

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