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Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, signed this Wednesday the law that officially legalizes the consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes in the state. In this way, it becomes the sixteenth in the United States to legalize it.
“This is a historic day in New York, righting the wrongs of the past by ending harsh prison sentences. It welcomes an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy,” Cuomo said on Twitter.
New York follows in the footsteps of 14 other states and the District of Columbia in passing the bill legalizing recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older, after hours of intense debate last Tuesday, March 30.
Senate Legislative Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, joined Cuomo’s celebration, calling the new law a “first step in addressing the disparities caused by the war on drugs.”
“There were many important aspects of this legislation that needed to be properly addressed. Especially the racial disparities that have plagued our state’s response to marijuana use and distribution, as well as ensuring public safety,” Stewart-Cousins wrote.
Liz Krueger, the Democratic state senator who led the efforts to push this law forward, celebrated its approval and insisted that it will “put an end to years of failed policies to prohibit marijuana,” according to EFE.
Krueger also stressed that legalization will activate a social and economic equality plan, as well as the establishment of a state fund to manage the profits obtained from the sale of marijuana.
However, on several occasions the Republican Party has warned about the consequences of marijuana legalization and that its normalization could affect American society. Last year, Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, explained that there are more important issues for Americans.
McCarthy made these statements when last December 4 the House of Representatives gave its approval to the legalization of marijuana in the national territory. The House approved the bill with 228 votes in favor.
In 2019, a report by The New York Times showed the consequences of cannabis legalization in Colorado. According to the journalistic work, an increase in emergency rooms with situations associated with marijuana use was reported.
“Since the recreational sale of marijuana began in 2014, more people have ended up in the state’s emergency rooms due to problems linked to consumption; hospitals report higher rates of mental health cases related to this product,” the media outlet reported.