New York didn’t manage to pass full recreational marijuana, and that’s nothing short of disappointing. Is there any hope for the “Empire State”? Take a look at our full report…
It’s becoming almost inexcusable.
Last week, feverish efforts by New York lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana sparked a new glimmer of hope for the future of the state.
“New York Senate is hashing out bill to legalize weed,” said the New York Post.
“New Proposal Could Be New York’s Last Chance to Legalize Marijuana This Year,” said Marijuana Moment.
“New York’s marijuana legalization push isn’t dead just yet,” said Vox.
And just as quickly as those renewed hopes were raised, they were dashed on the rocks of an incompetent legislature.
I’ve long recognized the dysfunctionality of the lawmakers running the show in Albany, so I was never overly optimistic about the odds of success for this eleventh-hour push.
Even still, it’s worth noting that New York failed to give its constituents what they want – and that’s never good on the verge of an election year.
So for now, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nightmare will continue.
But it wasn’t all bad news out of the State Capitol.
Lawmakers approved a bill that provides a small, but much needed, step in the right direction.
And it demonstrates that the legislature is considering how things have been done in other states that show a lot of promise.
Make sure you understand the big difference that this small detail could make to your investments…
Overdue Social Justice Reforms
As the final day of action for the 2019 session came to a close Friday morning, the New York State Legislature was able to hold on to some small victories.
The most notable of those victories was the passage of a bill that will further decriminalize marijuana in the “Empire State.”
While that bill falls far short of citizens’ wish for fully legal adult-use cannabis, it implements desperately needed changes.
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Under the new law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana will be a “violation” punishable by small fines – not a crime. Just as importantly, it will establish the automatic expungement of arrest records for possession of small amounts of cannabis.
A recent study published in the UC Davis Law Review shows that the majority of U.S. drug arrests involve quantities of one gram or less – infinitesimally less than the two ounces New York is decriminalizing!
The study also shows that an astounding 71% of all drug arrests are related to marijuana.
Continuing with these alarming statistics, 80% of arrests in the war on drugs “just happened to be” African American and Latino – a fact that Senator Jamaal Bailey (D-NY), a cosponsor of the bill, pointed out during the session.
“This is a bill that could be said to be about ending the war on drugs,” Senator Bailey said. “But to me, it was a war on black and brown people.”
We have primarily looked to legalization for the enormous profit opportunities it allows, but it’s important to take a moment and consider how what we’re investing in can change our society for the better.
As Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-NY) said, “This is not the final step, but it will lay the groundwork for full decriminalization and legalization in the future.”
That’s really the key takeaway here for investors – the passage of these social justice reform components is a monumental step towards normalization and complete legalization.
And you couldn’t model a program like that better than they have in Illinois.
A Model Program
I’ve already shared a bit about how Illinois’s cannabis legislation creates an interesting tax structure based on THC levels.
But the social equity program in the state is also noteworthy. In fact, it would do well to serve as the blueprint for any such program across the nation.
In addition to expunging criminal records for cannabis-related offenses, individuals who do have their records expunged – and family members of any such individuals – will qualify as an “equity applicant” in the adult-use cannabis business licensing process.
Individuals living in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs will also qualify, and when a business is 51% owned by individuals in these categories, it will receive additional points on its application.
And that only scratches the surface of what Illinois is doing to right past wrongs related to marijuana.
Any state hoping to set up a successful recreational market should look to how Illinois is setting up theirs.
So even if New York failed to do as much as it should have for its citizens, it shows great promise that they were willing to work on these needed reforms at the close of their session.
And as we continue to chip away at the pillars of prohibition, we can continue to position our investments ahead of the final catalysts that will send this industry to the moon.
It’s not too late to go all in – make sure you know how to take advantage of this incredible opportunity while there’s still time.
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
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10 responses to “There’s More to New York’s Story than Meets the Eye”
June 24 2019