A Quinnipiac University poll released this week says that 88% of New York residents are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in the state, sparking the debate that perhaps the Empire State is finally ready for a nice heavy dose of indica dominant cannabis. This is up 17% in just two years.
|New York residents are high on the idea of fresh pot laws|
Only 9% of New Yorkers are against the idea, but hell, only 39% of residents think that full recreational legalization of weed is a bad idea, with over 57% in favor of just skipping the “medical” step, and making pot legal for all adults.
The state’s Governor, Andrew Coumo, has expressed limited support for advancing medical marijuana laws, and made mention of it last month during his State of the State Address. In the speech, he announced that up to 20 hospitals would be granted permission to prescribe medical marijuana, under the strict supervision of the state government.
“Research suggests that medical marijuana can help manage the pain and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses. Twenty states have already started to use it,” he said in the Address. “We’ll establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana, and we will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and the feasibility of a medical marijuana system.”
While it is surely a step in the right direction, many cannabis advocates, and even unbiased observers, can see that the people of New York are ready for much more progressive reform with regard to marijuana.
One of the Quinnipiac pollsters was quoted as saying, “Medical marijuana is a no-brainer for New York State voters, and they also would follow Colorado in legalizing marijuana for fun.”
Cuomo’s plan would only allow doctors to prescribe weed to patients who are suffering from a disease that threatens their lives or their senses. A Sienna College poll from January showed that only 28% of voters are in favor of Cuomo’s plan. Somewhat pathetic considering we now know that 88% of them want something to change.
New York state legislators, however, can feel the heat from their constituents, and have drafted their own new reform bill, one which they feel is much more comprehensive and realistic than the Governor’s plan.
|Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York|
Their proposal would allow anyone over the age of 18 to possess up to two ounces of bud, a quarter ounce of concentrates, and the permission to grow up to six plants. It would also put in place a regulatory system to allow for storefronts to provide recreational cannabis to adults over the age of 21.
John Liu, the New York City Comptroller, estimates that such a move could bring in over $400-million annually in new weed-tax-generated-revenue – in NYC alone.
New York Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D – Manhattan) nails it when he says, “We really need to move beyond our totally broken prohibition model to a sensible tax and regulate model. I think it’s widely recognized that marijuana is at most nowhere near as potentially harmful as alcohol and our law is dishonest.”
The Quinnipiac poll, like most polls, was limited in scope. It only queried 1,488 New York residents. But when you see the massive gains over similar polling conducted just two years prior, it shows the tide turning rapidly on public acceptance of pot, for a wide variety of reasons.
Cuomo’s plan is a poorly calculated and tepid response, at best, to a raging issue. He does not address cultivation, as though the 20 hospitals will have a stork deliver the weed. He does not address the fact that the ACLU found New York State to be number one in the country when it comes to arresting its citizens for weed-related crimes.
Senator Liz Krueger (D – Manhattan) sums it up, saying, “I don’t believe a drug that is proven to be less dangerous, from a health perspective, than alcohol or tobacco should be under laws that actually criminalize and ruin lives when alcohol or tobacco are regulated and taxed.”
A rapidly growing majority of New Yorkers agree.