Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which has officially legalized recreational use of marijuana across the state. While the Governor is currently facing a slew of allegations of misconduct, he publicly praised the bill and stated, "This is a historic day in New York, one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State's economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits.” Under the new law New Yorkers ages 21 and up will be allowed to legally purchase marijuana for personal use, however, it will take some time for new dispensaries to open up. In fact, the sale of marijuana will not become legal for another 18 months. Marijuana has created a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s expected that New York could become one of the largest marijuana markets in the U.S.
Despite the bill being passed, some elected officials across New York have vowed to still take action against the use of marijuana. Local governments and municipalities have actually been given the right to opt out of the new law. Critics argue that many risks of the new bill include people driving while high, increasing the rate of substance abuse, and having drugs become readily available to those under 21. One Long Island Mayor stated, “I feel strongly about this. It’s a moral imperative to opt out. I’m not going to permit marijuana here. It’s that simple… We have young children who are easily influenced. I’m not interested in the tax revenue. I’m interested in the well-being of our children.” While there are risks involved with the new law, New York’s State Government has pledged that excess tax revenue collected from marijuana sales will be invested in public education on drug safety.