There are numerous good reasons for New York to “jump on the bandwagon” of legalizing marijuana. In short: Regulation works.
Regulating marijuana replaces the uncontrolled illicit market with a tightly regulated system, leading to safer outcomes for consumers and communities. In a regulated market, businesses are required to ask customers for proof of age, and they face severe penalties for selling to minors. So, no, legalization does not “make marijuana as easy to buy as a package of gum.” And, importantly, no state that has legalized marijuana for adults has seen an overall increase in teens’ rates of marijuana use.
Both the public and government officials recognize the futility and harm of marijuana prohibition. A May 2018 Quinnipiac poll found that 63 percent of New Yorkers support legalization. Meanwhile, in July 2018, the New York Department of Health released a 75-page report on the potential impact of regulated marijuana in New York, ultimately recommending implementing a regulated system. By ending marijuana prohibition in 2019, New York would hardly be making a hasty decision. Bills have been introduced for several years, and the first state adult-use laws passed more than six years ago. The sooner the state acts, the sooner it will be able to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue.