Legislation has been introduced in New York to give the state one of the most lenient marijuana possession laws in the country.
The proposal would allow those 21 and older to possess up to three ounces of marijuana without facing the potential of a criminal charge. This triples the state’s current marijuana decrim limit of one ounce.
The measure is separate from the one introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo would which would fully legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, including allowing marijuana retail outlets. Cuomo’s measure is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Liz Krueger and in the Assembly by Assemblymember Cystal Peoples-Stokes.
As noted by the AP, marijuana legalization in New York could eventually bring in $300 million in annual revenues, according to a Cuomo estimate released last year. Cuomo’s proposal says marijuana revenue would be deposited in a state cannabis fund to be spent on everything from administration, to substance abuse treatment, public health education, to research on cannabis uses. “His administration says they don’t want to require specific amounts go to certain areas because they want flexibility as the industry grows and changes.”
Peoples-Stokes said Tuesday that she has been in regular conversations with the governor’s office on marijuana legalization. She signaled will not support the proposal if marijuana revenue is not diverted to communities affected by the drug’s prohibition.
“And I know that he probably will try to make sure that there are resources invested in communities of color that have been (disaffected.) But quite honestly, he’s not governor for life,” she said. “There could be another governor in five years.”
Peoples-Stokes told the AP that there are now more New Yorkers and lawmakers who see the value of legalizing the drug. Her plan recently received the support of Sen. Pete Harckham. Support from Democrats in moderate districts like Harckham’s could be key as legislators push to legalize recreational marijuana.
A recent Siena College poll found 58% of respondents supported legalizing recreational marijuana use. The poll involved 814 registered voters in New York and was conducted by telephone Jan. 11-16. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Under the plan included in Cuomo’s budget, people caught smoking marijuana in public place could face a fine of $125 fine. People could face a misdemeanor if they have more than two ounces of marijuana under the governor’s plan. But under the legislative proposal, people found with more than three ounces of marijuana could receive a violation and face a fine of $125.