Tompkins County Legislature Declares Support for Marijuana Legalization in New York

The Tompkins County Legislature has officially declared its support for marijuana legalization in New York by issuing a formal resolution.

Tompkins County is in rural Central NY and includes the city of Ithaca, home of Cornell University.  Cornell stands to be in the forefront of agricultural hemp and marijuana research and must be eagerly awaiting legalization.

An Interesting Read

Here is the resolution in part. It reads like a total damnation of marijuana prohibition in the US and NY especially:

WHEREAS, since the drug war was initiated in the 1970s, over $1 trillion has been spent nationally enforcing drug laws, including those pertaining to marijuana, and

WHEREAS, the existing drug laws have contributed significantly to the mass incarceration of two million American citizens which represents the highest imprisonment rate of any nation and 25% of the world’s prisoners, and

WHEREAS, marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance and marijuana possession is the most commonly charged drug offense; accounting each year for over 600,000 Americans who are arrested, imprisoned, fined, or otherwise criminalized and stigmatized, potentially for life, because of their use of marijuana, and

WHEREAS, New York State has one of the worst racial disparities in marijuana arrests in the United States, with people of color being eight times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people, despite similar rates of use, and

WHEREAS, since 1996, there have been over 800,000 low-level marijuana possession arrests in New York, and

WHEREAS, in 2010 alone, New York State spent $675 million enforcing marijuana prohibition, and

WHEREAS, existing marijuana laws have been ineffective at curbing use, improving public health outcomes, or increasing public safety, and

WHEREAS, the American public, at 93%, overwhelmingly supports legalizing medical marijuana and believe the drug should be legal for medical uses, and

WHEREAS, 63% of New Yorkers support the legalization of marijuana for adult use, and

WHEREAS, states and the District of Columbia have broken from the federal government and allowed access to marijuana for medicinal purposes, and

WHEREAS, nine states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia, have voted to legalize marijuana for adult use, and

WHEREAS, the New York State Department of Health has concluded that the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana outweigh any potential negative consequences, and

WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of New York has accepted that conclusion and endorsed marijuana legalization, and

WHEREAS, in parallel with the New York State initiative to develop an agricultural foundation and market for industrial hemp, legalizing marijuana would spur development of marijuana-based agri-business in rural areas of New York State, and

WHEREAS, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) S. 3040 (Krueger) / A. 3506 (Peoples-46Stokes) legalizes the production, distribution, and use of marijuana by removing the substance from classification as an illicit drug under New York’s Controlled Substances Act, and

WHEREAS, the MRTA will provide a foundation to create a responsible and well-regulated industry for adults over the age of 21, and a framework to limit youth access in ways that are unachievable under prohibition, including the implementation of the following regulatory safeguards:

  • Establish, finalize, and financially support necessary infrastructure, including regulations, rules, appropriate testing of infrastructure and critical staff onboarding prior to beginning of sales.
  • Align regulation of marijuana with the New York Clean Indoor Air Act which will ensure children, youth and other vulnerable populations are not exposed to marijuana use or second-hand smoke. Enforcement of these marijuana regulations must adequately address use in restaurants and other public spaces.
  • Align regulation of marijuana with existing tobacco laws, and advocate to reach a unified statewide adoption of a Tobacco Marijuana 21 policy.
  • Include warning labels on all marijuana products to ensure consumer awareness of health dangers and risks.
  • Formulate and implement specific regulations targeting edible safety, including child-resistant packaging and restrictions on products which may be enticing to children.
  • Active ingredients concentration regulations, particularly those related to packaging, labeling, and testing for potency, must be standardized and in place before implementation.
  • Impairment as a result of substance abuse while operating a motor vehicle must be assessed and enforced based upon best available evidence.
  • Fund surveillance and research efforts to monitor the type, use, frequency of use, and potency of marijuana used by New Yorkers.
  • Encourage and fund the scientific study of health effects among New Yorkers who use marijuana.
  • Fully fund enforcement and oversight, with such funding taking into account inflation and industry growth.
  • Establish a financial structure that will apply the tax revenue received by New York State from the sale of marijuana to these regulatory responsibilities first, before allocating revenue to other uses.

WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Legislature understands that use of marijuana in the state of New York has unintended negative consequences for some people, including risk of dependency, possible desensitization to future drug use, negative cognitive and academic effects, complicated interrelationships with mental illnesses, adverse cardiac and respiratory effects, and long-term brain development impacts related to underage use, and

WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Legislature supports passage of the MRTA so that these unintended negative consequences of marijuana use, that impact the lives of many marijuana users, may be better addressed in an environment where criminal penalties are not a factor in seeking assistance, and

WHEREAS, the MRTA will provide an alternate approach and serve a greater public good than prohibition has, by saving law enforcement resources and instead generating millions in tax revenue that could be allocated to support drug treatment, detox facilities, and programming for those who experience marijuana dependency, efforts to end the opioid epidemic in New York State, investment in New York’s public schools, libraries, early childhood education, re-entry services, adult education programs, marijuana health effects research, public education programs, community development projects, and rebuild communities that have been most harmed by marijuana prohibition’s collateral consequences, and

WHEREAS, the MRTA will end the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana prohibition in communities of color that has directly led to reduced access to advancement opportunities including the ability of an individual to get a loan, get a job, go to college, or have a place to live, and

WHEREAS, racial justice, economic opportunity, and public health are priorities of the residents of Tompkins County, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Public Safety and the Health and Human Services Committee, that the Tompkins County Legislature:

  • Supports the bringing an end of marijuana prohibition;
  • Supports the creation of a diverse and inclusive marijuana industry;
  • Supports the reinvestment of revenue from taxed and regulated marijuana in communities that were impacted by the war on drugs;
  • Supports the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

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