Home to more than 8.4 million inhabitants within an urban area of 830 km2, New York is the second most densely populated city in the United States.
From the end of the 19th century, this city ranks among the main world centres for commerce and finance. It is deemed as a global hub given its worldwide influence on the media, politics, education, entertainment, and fashion. New York City’s artistic and cultural influence is one of the most prominent in the country. Apart from that, the Big Apple is also home to the United Nations headquarters, which makes this city an important centre for international diplomacy. There is every reason why the eyes of the world are glued to The City that Never Sleeps, and, since March, a new one was added to the list: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement on the passing of a bill legalising recreational marijuana.
The enactment was made official after the governor reached an agreement with NY legislators during the last weekend of March. As a result, the State of New York joins other 14 states and Washington D.C. in approving of the free use of recreational cannabis.
Marijuana in New York
A sense of victory was in the air since March 4, at the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally demonstration to celebrate marijuana and demand legalisation. New Yorkers gathered in a pandemic scenario—following protocols set by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation—with the remarkable attendance of many Albany County lawmakers, including senators Alessandra Biaggi, Brian A. Benjamin and Jessica Ramos, in addition to Shinnecock Nation chairman Bryan Polite, a Shinnecock delegation, and industry leader Steve DeAngelo, anticipating the course of a bill that now makes it possible for all NY citizens over 21 to buy cannabis and grow plants for personal use.
Cannabis Legalisation in New York
Governor Cuomo’s words encourage other states to turn into this direction as well. “This landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalised communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public,” the governor said in a statement.
Cuomo’s office has claimed that exploiting an adult-use cannabis industry in New York has a potential to create from 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs and bring in 350 million US dollars a year in tax revenue. These are appealing estimates that are part of a plan to divert some funds to problematic drug use treatment, the Office of Cannabis Management, and further research on the use of medical cannabis.
As the bill was signed into law, the State of New York has automatically wiped out the criminal records of people with past convictions of marijuana-related offences which are no longer punishable, and has also withdrawn all fines for possession of up to 85 grams—the new threshold established by the law.