| Posted on Tue, September, 16th 2014 by THCFinder
The state of New York could legalize marijuana for recreational use as early as 2015.
State Sen. Liz Krueger (D) will reintroduce the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act during the next legislative session, which begins in January, her office confirmed to The Huffington Post on Monday.
"We're definitely introducing the bill next session," Brad Usher, Krueger's chief of staff, told HuffPost. "We've received a variety of feedback since we first introduced it last December and we're working on amending it, so we're looking to see what we can learn from Colorado and Washington when we reintroduce it."
Krueger's bill would permit the opening of retail marijuana dispensaries, which would be regulated by the State Liquor Authority. The bill would establish an excise tax on all marijuana sales, and adults would legally be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use. Krueger introduced a similar bill in 2013 that also aimed to legalize the possession, use and sale of limited amounts of recreational marijuana, but the bill never made it out of committee.
Usher said that many of the changes to the measure for reintroduction in 2015 relate to how the tax is structured, as well as clarifying who would be able to work in the state's marijuana industry.
New York is not a referendum state, which means that if next year's measure gets through the legislature and is signed into law, it will immediately go into effect and will not require a vote by New Yorkers. Colorado and Washington, both of which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, did so through voter-approved ballot measures.
"In some ways, not having a referendum makes it harder," Usher said. "With referendum, you only need 50.1 percent support to win, but getting a bill through to law will probably require broader support to address the risk-averse character of some elected officials."
One such official might be Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who has not made it clear whether he would support a bill that legalizes marijuana for recreational use. In January, Cuomo said that Colorado-style legalization in New York is "a nonstarter for me."
Earlier this summer, New York became the 23rd state in the country to legalize medical marijuana. Moreover, the state decriminalized the possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana more than 30 years ago. Even so, New York, and especially New York City, remain plagued by an inordinate number of low-level marijuana arrests.