Mayor de Blasio announces support for marijuana legalization

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NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced his support for the safe and fair legalization of marijuana in New York.

He also released his Task Force report on Cannabis Legalization, calling for a strong, public health-focused regulatory framework and the empowerment of local government to prevent corporate greed and foster small businesses, while meeting the demands of New York City communities.

With the legalization of marijuana, de Blasio hopes for a "clean slate and a fair future," for those in New York City, calling for convictions on low-level marijuana crimes to be expunged.

State officials have been working to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

The report comes days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his 2019 agenda, putting the legalization of recreational marijuana a top priority for the start of his third term.

Melissa Mark-Viverito, former City Council speaker and candidate for public advocate, also unveiled a four-point "Weed for Rails" plan that looks to legalize marijuana and use the tax revenue to fix the city's broken subway system.

Thousands of New Yorkers’ lives were changed on Wednesday after warrants for marijuana arrest.

“These convictions are not keeping us safe,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

He wants to make sure marijuana does not line big business points and hopes that “New Yorkers build their own local cannabis industry.”

If legalized, the city hopes to:

  • Establish an Equitable Licensing System: Create local licensing programs, regulate public places of consumption, regulate home and commercial cultivation and manufacturing, and regulate home delivery services.
  • Preserve Communities: Establish zoning and area restrictions for cannabis businesses, as well as restrictions on the density to determine how the location of cannabis businesses can best fit into the fabric of its communities.
  • Protect Public Health: Enforce age limits of 21 and over with civil rather than criminal penalties to violations of cannabis regulations to the greatest extent possible consistent with public safety.
  • Right Historic Wrongs: Recommend automatic expungement of criminal records relating to conduct that may be legalized, including personal use and possession of certain quantities – subject to notice and opportunity by District Attorneys’ Offices to raise objections in specific cases.
  • Ensure Product Safety: Recommend statewide standards for product safety, labeling and packaging, marketing, and advertising, as well as a mandatory seed-to-sale tracking system accessible to State and local regulators and financial institutions serving cannabis-related businesses.
  • Put Small Businesses First: Work with State authorities to reduce the risk of market domination by big businesses and foster sustainable growth, in part, by restricting businesses from owning and controlling each stage of the supply chain, which may otherwise be owned by different, specialized businesses.
  • Create Equal Opportunity: Participate in a dual state-local licensing structure that will permit the City to pursue its own innovations to promote economic opportunities created by this new market, subject to the minimum standards set by the State.
  • Ease Access to Capital: Advocate for legislation expressly providing that banking and professional services for cannabis-related businesses do not violate State law.
  • Make Fair Investments: Allocate tax revenue, licensing fees, and other sources of financing to administer the new industry and support cannabis businesses and workers, with a focus on target populations and community reinvestment.
  • Build Local Businesses: Develop an incubator program to provide direct support to equity applicants in the form of counseling services, education, small businesses coaching, and compliance assistance.

Mayor de Blasio announces he is in support of legalizing marijuana. 

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