Next week, State Senator Liz Krueger will introduce a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New York State. “We see the bill as the starting point for the conversation about a more rational marijuana policy, [one] that doesn’t result in a system that costs taxpayers an awful lot of money and generates racially discriminatory outcomes,” said her spokesman Andrew Goldston. The bill comes on the heels of another piece of legislation to legalize medical marijuana in New York State.
That bill is believed to have a better chance of passing both chambers, thanks to its co-sponsorship by State Senator Diane Savino, a member of the bipartisan coalition that controls the State Senate. Krueger announced her intention to push for the legalization of recreational marijuana at a forum in May. “It is my intention as a New York State senator to soon introduce a law that would actually decriminalize, regulate and tax marijuana in New York,” she said at the time. Krueger’s original proposal called for adults to be able to grow up to six marijuana plants at home, and for the drug to be regulated by the state liquor authority, just like alcohol.
Marijuana would be taxed at a rate of $50 per ounce. (An eighth of an ounce in New York City typically costs about $50.) Eighty percent of the ensuing revenue would go to the state’s general fund. Localities could add an extra five percent tax, or opt out. Krueger won’t be releasing the final draft of the legislation until next week. “There have been some small changes, but it’s more or less along the same lines,” said Goldston.
Krueger is not the most obvious person to be leading this fight. She last smoked weed at a Cheech and Chong movie in 1977 and represents a wealthy, largely white district on the Upper East Side. But that’s kind of the point. “When I started to discuss it with the drug policy specialists, they said, ‘You know, you’re sort of a good one to carry this,’” she told me earlier this year. “’You aren’t a stoner. You’re not someone who’s an obvious suspect for doing this.
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