State Senator Liz Kruger has been working hard for the supermajority of New Yorkers who want cannabis fully legalized for years. Full Democratic control of the state legislature has finally brought her efforts to the finish line, or so it seems. Political wrangling between legislators, the Governor, and special interest groups has delayed efforts despite a consensus that its time for NY fully legalize marijuana, ganja, pot, reefer, mary jane, weed, cannabis……
Three major issues have remained sticking points: Allowing adults to home cultivate, allocation of tax revenue, and questions about enforcing motor vehicle laws. Kruger’s bill, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, has consistently demanded that adult residents should be able to grow the plant for personal use at home. The MRTA also insists that tax revenues must be largely directed toward those communities most impacted by the years of ‘the war on drugs’. Read this recently released report that analyzes that disparity in arrests across the state.
Governor Cuomo, clearly influenced by special interest groups, has been resisting the ‘home-grow’ option. The executive would like more revenue from excise taxes to stay in the state coffers instead of being invested in local communities.
As of late last week it seemed that the Governor had acquiesced, as an investigation into his sexual harassment of aides makes national headlines. Insiders and even Senator Kruger have indicated that her insistent efforts have paid off. She was “extremely pleased with the agreement that we have come to”.
The final point of contention is likely to continue well past actual legalization: How do police apply the new law, particularly with motor vehicle enforcement? Those issues come down to how officers must negotiate the odor of cannabis during a traffic stop and what universal standards will be used for those driving under the influence ? Activists and the law enforcement community have a much different answer to both those questions.
Senate Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes stated her willingness to work with law enforcement on an agreement:
“I hear the District Attorney’s concerns related to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis. I completely agree that nobody should ever drive when their abilities may be impaired. The specific provisions surrounding driving under the influence of cannabis are actively being discussed, and public safety is of utmost importance to me.”