New York: State-Commissioned Report Will Recommend Legalizing Marijuana

Legalize MarijuanaA forthcoming report commissioned by the Governor’s office is set to recommend that lawmakers legalize and regulate the possession and sale of marijuana by adults.

According to statements made today by New York State health commissioner Howard Zucker, the report’s authors have concluded that “a regulated, legal marijuana program [ought to] be available to adults in the state.”

“We looked at the pros, we looked at the cons, and when were done, we realized that the pros outweighed the cons,” Mr. Zucker said, adding, “We have new facts.”

A finalized version of the Health Department study is anticipated to be released imminently.

The health commissioner’s statements come just weeks after an analysis prepared by the New York City Comptroller’s office concluded that the state of New York would gain an estimated $434 million annually in new tax revenue under a regulated adult use marijuana market.

Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, in the past, has been reticent to publicly support calls to regulate the adult marijuana use market in New York state — stating that he is “unconvinced” that legalizing is a preferable public policy to criminalization.

During today’s remarks, health commissioner Zucker also indicated that the Department is moving to expand medical cannabis access to those using opioids. Under the new regulations, those with chronic pain wishing to use cannabis as a substitute for opiates will be able to do so. “[T]hat means if an individual is taking prescription opioids, they could take medical marijuana as part of the program that we are pushing forward to hopefully come off prescription opioids as well,” he said.

According to data published in May, patients enrolled in New York state’s medical cannabis program reduce their use of opioids and spend less money on prescription medications. The study’s findings are similar to those reported among enrollees in other states’ medical cannabis programs, including the experiences of patients in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

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