Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act

S. 1747 / A. 3089A

Simply stated, the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act will transform our state's approach to marijuana.

An End to Criminal Penalties for Adult Users

Free up police, prosecutors and courts.  It takes a lot of staff and money to make, process, and prosecute 30,000 arrests every year.  The vast majority of prosecutions end in dismissals, anyway.  The proposal will end the waste by ending the policy of treating adults as criminals for possessing and using marijuana.  Smoking in public places will still be prohibited.

Now more than ever, limiting tensions between police and citizens is crucial.  Ending criminal penalties is a huge step forward in strengthening trust and goodwill between police and communities.

Moving Jobs out of the Underground Economy - Without Leaving Communities Behind

Whether we like it or not, the marijuana industry has been thriving in New York since the 1960s.  It's all been underground, of course, and the proposal would change that.  It recognizes, however, that legalization has the potential to destroy the livelihoods of many good people operating underground today.  It makes it possible for those people to enter the legal market, and to earn a living cultivating and selling marijuana as long as they abide by the rules.

Implementing Lessons from Alcohol & Tobacco Demand Reduction

Proof-of-age requirements make it harder for teens to get alcohol in New York than marijuana, because marijuana sellers don't ask for proof-of-age.  Anti-tobacco campaigns, based on honest facts, have led to the greatest public health victory since the Polio vaccine.  

Adolescents can do shortsighted things, certainly, but they're not stupid.  With approximately half of all high school students trying marijuana despite making it illegal - every year, for the two decades that surveys have been taken - it's clear that scare tactics are not working.

Fact-based education is the best tool we have, and it's strengthened by a coherent public policy that rationally addresses marijuana.

Oversight by the State Liquor Authority

No new agency will be created.  Instead, the State Liquor Authority will take on the task of regulating marijuana and enforcing proof-of-age requirements as they currently do in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies.

In fact, the law is modeled on the Alcoholic Beverage Control law, which has served New York well for decades.

Marijuana Taxes

Virtually everybody agrees that, if marijuana is to be legal, then taxing it - except in the case of medical marijuana patients - is appropriate.

The proposal sets appropriate taxes - balancing the need to keep prices high enough to keep marijuana out of the hands of youth, while keeping them low enough to eliminate the underground market forever.  It also dedicates money for:

  • prevention and treatment programs sponsored by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS),
  • re-entry programs for individuals returning to communities after terms of incarceration through the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), and
  • job training and employment programs sponsored by the Department of Labor (DOL).

Local governments will collect customary sales taxes, and are empowered to impose additional taxes up to five percent.

Local Control

The proposal gives local governments the same rights that they have to prohibit sales of alcohol - as a number of New York counties continue to do, more than eighty years after the end of alcohol Prohibition.  If a majority does not want marijuana in a particular location, that majority can stand up and say so.

Protection for Immigrants

So-called "minor" marijuana arrests in New York very often lead to deportation and denial of re-entry into the Untied States by non-citizens - even those who were in New York on valid visas, entirely lawfully.

Deportation destroys individuals and families, and does nothing to make New York safer.

By ending criminalization, the proposal ends New York State's participation in that damaging system - and strengthens New York's communities and families in the process.