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How New York and California Botched Marijuana Legalization

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How New York and California Botched Marijuana Legalization

(CTN News) – Marijuana legalization has been a contentious issue in the United States for decades.

While many states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, others have resisted legalization, citing concerns about the potential social and health impacts of cannabis use.

New York and California have recently attempted to legalize marijuana, but missteps and controversies have marred these efforts.

This article will explore how New York and California botched marijuana legalization and what can be learned from their mistakes.

The Legalization Efforts in New York

The Delay in Legalization

New York was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana, but it took years before the state decided to legalize the recreational use of cannabis.

The delay was due to a lack of consensus among lawmakers and concerns about the potential impact of legalization on public health and safety.

It wasn’t until March 2021 that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, legalizing the use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

The Opt-Out Provision

One of the biggest controversies surrounding New York’s legalization of marijuana is the opt-out provision, which allows local governments to prohibit marijuana sales and use within their jurisdictions.

Critics argue that this provision undermines the state’s efforts to create a regulated and equitable cannabis industry, as it could lead to a patchwork of laws across the state.

The Equity Concerns

Another major issue with New York’s legalization of marijuana is the lack of focus on equity concerns.

While the state’s new law includes provisions for expunging past marijuana convictions and creating a social equity program to help people from communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, some advocates argue that these measures do not go far enough.

They believe that more needs to be done to ensure that marginalized communities have equal access to the benefits of the legal cannabis industry.

The Legalization Efforts in California

The Slow Rollout of Legalization

California was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana, and it became the largest state to legalize recreational marijuana when Proposition 64 passed in 2016.

However, the rollout of legal cannabis sales in California was slow, and it took until January 2018 for dispensaries to begin selling recreational marijuana.

The High Taxes

Another problem with California’s legalization of marijuana is the high taxes.

While the state’s tax revenue from legal cannabis sales has been significant, the high taxes on marijuana products have made it difficult for legal dispensaries to compete with the state’s thriving black market.

This has led to a situation where many consumers still choose to buy marijuana illegally, despite its legal status.

The Black Market

One of the biggest challenges facing California’s legal cannabis industry is the state’s thriving black market.

The high taxes on legal cannabis products have made them more expensive than their black market counterparts, and the slow rollout of legal dispensaries has made it easier for illegal sellers to thrive.

This has led to a situation where many consumers still buy marijuana from illegal sources, even though it is legal in the state.

What Can Be Learned from These Mistakes?

The legalization efforts in New York and California provide valuable lessons for other states considering marijuana legalization. One of the biggest lessons is addressing equity concerns in the legalization process.

Both New York and California have faced criticism for not doing enough to ensure that marginalized communities have equal access to the benefits of the legal cannabis industry.

Future states considering legalization should make equity a central focus of their efforts and work to create programs and policies that address the harm caused by the war on drugs.

Another important lesson is the need for a well-designed and executed rollout plan. California’s slow rollout of legal dispensaries allowed the black market to thrive, while New York’s opt-out provision could lead to a patchwork of laws across the state.

States considering legalization should develop a clear and comprehensive plan for implementing the new law, including regulations for licensing and taxation, as well as measures to prevent illegal sales.

Finally, the issue of taxes should be carefully considered in any marijuana legalization effort. While taxes on legal cannabis products can generate significant revenue for states, high taxes can make legal products more expensive than their black market counterparts.

States considering legalization should consider the tax rate on cannabis products to ensure they are not driving consumers to the black market.

Conclusion

The legalization efforts in New York and California provide important lessons for other states considering marijuana legalization. Addressing equity concerns, developing a well-designed rollout plan, and carefully considering the tax rate on cannabis products are all critical factors that can make or break a legalization effort. By learning from the mistakes made by these two states, future states can create a legal cannabis industry that is equitable, safe, and successful.

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