New York Marijuana: Will 2018 See Legalization?

New_york_marijuana_legalization_By Doug Shutter
Photo: Doug Shutter/ shutterstock

America has wondered over the last year whether or not New York State is ready to legalize marijuana. The residents seem split on the idea of recreational use. Even the governor has finally been swayed in the direction of acceptance.

It must be admitted that the bonus of added revenue on top of legalization in surrounding states plays a part in his mind.

New Yorkers smoke the most throughout the world, according to a recent study. It’s estimated that residents consume more than 77 tons per year.

So will they finally be able to light up legally this year?

In my opinion, nope. At least not in 2018. It has been a tug of war of debating, proposals, opponents, and studies that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo would like to have concluded before he approves.

New York Marijuana Is in the Limelight

While full legalization is still in its early stages, New York marijuana has recently been in the news when it comes to cannabis. Andrew Cuomo, who has always been an opponent of recreational marijuana, has announced recently that he is ready to investigate legalizing it. New York currently has legal medical marijuana, which was enacted in 2013 and amended to add more products in December 2017. But New York still has some oppositions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is still not ready to accept recreational marijuana. He feels that the decision will come with unacceptable risks that he is not willing to take. He is among other officials who feel that there are too many risks involved in legalization. Sheriffs in different New York State counties have come together to study the negative effects in already legal states.

At the same time, the governor is beginning his official study.

The study, which is expected to be completed by this fall, puts New York ahead of other states, claims Cuomo. While there are states that have already passed laws for marijuana, his state is the first to do a large, detailed study that aligns with the federal government's new position. Some say this is a response to Cynthia Nixon's campaign, which has marijuana legalization in its platform.

What the Governor Wants Before Going Forward

Governor Cuomo has a few things he wants to be answered before he considers proceeding. The New York State Health Department is using five key steps to conclude a marijuana study on the effects of legalizing for recreational use. The steps will include:

  • Reviewing New York marijuana use & experience
  • Reviewing peer-reviewed literature on regulated marijuana,
  • Reviewing the impact of regulated marijuana in other states,
  • Conducting interviews with representatives of other states, and
  • Reviewing input of subject matter experts

These five steps are intended to help with properly studying the effects of recreational legalization in multiple areas. The budget given to the health department allows them to investigate the consequences of legalizing marijuana. They are looking for results in:

  • Types of revenue and needed regulations,
  • Health impacts,
  • Justice and the economic status of New York,
  • Public safety impacts,
  • Advertising, and
  • Effects on children

Why They Should Hurry Up and Legalize

NY-Statue_liberty_By Blablo101
Photo: Blablo101/ shutterstock
New York could stand to provide valuable insights into the effects of illegal marijuana. Information suggests that legalizing it will affect the areas that will be studied. The claims of racial enforcement disparities, the possibility of marijuana helping the opioid crisis, and the potential rise in employment come to mind. At the very least, it would have to look into claims of inequality from the residents and officials. Here’s a breakdown of the key areas:


Black and Latino people are nearly 10 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related crimes even though it has been proven that all residents share equal usage. Approximately 18,000 were arrested for marijuana-related crimes in New York in 2017. 50% were black, 38% were Latino, and the rest were white. Whites account for 40% of the state's residents.

The disparity in arrests for marijuana in New York hasn't changed in about 30 years. In legal states, arrests and/or courts fees fell as much as 98%.


In a span of nine years, deaths due to drugs doubled, starting from 777 in 2003 to 1,950 deaths in 2012. None of them were due to marijuana use. Deaths involving opioids have increased four times from 186 in 2003 to 914 in 2012, an increase of 23%. However, this was a decrease from 2010, when opioid deaths peaked.


New York State is not in a financial crisis, but it could stand to do better, and the added revenue can help. When compared to legal states like Colorado, New York's business development and expansions did not meet the standard. Its unemployment rate has seen a small but steady increase. Relatively speaking, New York has seen more business closings and less employment change than Colorado. Its infrastructure is terrible. Money is needed to renovate New York.

Currently, New York State spends about $650 million in marijuana law enforcement.

While the Study Proceeds

New York Senator Chuck Schumer has introduced legislation decriminalizing marijuana across the nation. If the legislation passes, marijuana would no longer be on the controlled substance schedule with the DEA and it would be up to the states to legalize it. He wants to use funds received from the tax revenue to establish funding for women- and minority-owned businesses. The regulations would be similar to alcohol and tobacco.

Junior State Senator Kirsten Gillabrand has co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act with Cory Booker which would expunge prior convictions. Public advocate Lettia James has joined the fight to end prohibition. Her claims break down how keeping New York marijuana illegal only criminalizes and hinders people (especially people of color) in becoming successful. She also believes that convictions should be expunged as well.

With everything that needs to be researched and approved, do you think it will be legalized by the end of the year?