New York State Lawmakers to Renew Push for Marijuana Legalization

ALBANY, NY – Lawmakers in New York state will join with advocates next week to reintroduce a proposal to legalize marijuana in the Empire State.

On Monday, June 12, a coalition of community advocates led by the Drug Policy Alliance will join Senator Liz Krueger (D-New York) and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo) to announce reintroduction of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA, S.3040/A.3506), which would authorize recreational use of marijuana.

The coalition will also announce the launch of the Start SMART NY campaign (SMART stands for Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade).

The bill would establish a legal market for marijuana in New York and create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol for adults over the age of 21.

As it is estimated that New Yorkers spend an estimated $3 billion per year on marijuana, the potential tax revenue stream for the state is considerable.

An official study by the NYC comptroller in 2013 estimated potential tax revenue for a legal marijuana market in NYC alone would be more than $400 million, acknowledging that the actual revenue could be much higher.

The reworked Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) includes substantial racial justice and small business-friendly amendments, including:

  • Creating a micro-license structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, that allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.
  • Establishing the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which will invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.
  • Ensuring diversity in New York’s marijuana industry by removing barriers to access like capital requirements and building inclusivity by allowing licensing to people with prior drug convictions. Only people with business-related convictions (such as fraud or tax evasion) will be explicitly barred from receiving licenses.

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