State Sen. pushes for pot legalization, not prohibition

Under the bill introduced by State Senator Liz Krueger, New Yorkers 18 and over would be allowed to carry up to two ounces of marijuana. The state would tax marijuana at $50 per ounce.  Credit: istockphoto
Under the bill introduced by State Senator Liz Krueger, New Yorkers 18 and over would be allowed to carry up to two ounces of marijuana. The state would tax marijuana at $50 per ounce.
Credit: istockphoto

A newly introduced bill in the state Senate seeks to legalize and tax marijuana, turning an illicit industry into a potentially profitable one for the government.

State Senator Liz Krueger said the legislation is modeled after the laws that govern alcohol sales and consumption.

Under Krueger’s bill, New Yorkers age 18 and over would be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, and grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. The minimum age to buy pot would be 21. The bill establishes an excuse tax of $50 per ounce of marijuana, and authorizes local governments to charge additional tax on retail sales.

A portion of the tax revenue collected by the state would go to re-entry, substance abuse, and job training programs in low-income, high-unemployment areas.

“Prohibition of marijuana is a policy that just hasn’t worked, no matter how you look at it, and it’s time to have an honest conversation about what we should do next,” Krueger said.

She hopes moving from prohibition to regulation will end what reformers criticize as costly, ineffective policies that disproportionately harm New Yorkers of color.

Black New Yorkers are arrested for marijuana possession seven times as often as white New Yorkers, and Latinos are arrested at almost four times the rate of white New Yorkers.

“On their face, the racial disparities in these statistics represent a grave injustice, while the sheer volume of arrests shows just how gross a waste of city and state resources our current policy has become,” Krueger said.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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