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New York Senator Introduces Bill to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

Start spreading the news! Sing it with me: “New York, New Yoooooooork!” Everyone’s favorite city that never sleeps just might be sleeping a little easier along with the rest of the state if all goes well this year!

Senator Liz Krueger, true to her word, submitted the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act for consideration by the 2015 legislature, which would legalize the growing, use, and possession of cannabis by all individuals over the age of 18 (a departure from the standard recreational age of 21) in the state of New York. This will be the second time she has introduced such a bill, having previously introduced an identical bill during the 2014 legislature.

The bill would create an excise tax and a licensure system for the production and processing of cannabis, as well as repeal certain provisions of the penal code to remove penalties for the use, cultivation, and possession of cannabis.

I don’t have to tell you (or anyone who’s ever faced prosecution for the consumption of cannabis in New York) that this bill could be a huge game-changer, not just for New York, but by setting a new precedent for the entire country, particularly the east coast. New York has been behind in the cannabis race for years now, and even the NYPD has realized that it’s a problem, taking steps to reduce penalties for the possession (but not the public use) of cannabis.

Senator Krueger seems an unlikely (yet welcome) advocate for recreational cannabis – she does not consume cannabis regularly and admitted that the last time she tried cannabis was in 1977 at a Cheech and Chong movie. Unfortunately, the political climate in New York is a little frosty towards cannabis – just look at the medical marijuana system, which has hardly taken a step forward since the initiative was passed in July of last year.

The state's delays in getting a test program up and running has led to organizations such as Compassionate Care NY urging politicians to implement an emergency access program for critically ill patients. Thus, one aspect of this bill is particularly exciting: if it passes through legislature and is signed into law, it would be effective immediately!

If you are a New York resident and want to see New York legalize recreational cannabis THIS YEAR, contact Governor Cuomo now and urge him to support this bill!

photo credit: chrisswann26 via photopin cc