Now that recreational marijuana has been legalized in the state of New York, I’m wondering what should happen with the people who are serving time for marijuana possession.

On March 30, 2021, New York legislators submitted a bill to legalize marijuana to the Governor’s Office. On Wednesday morning Governor Andrew signed the bill into law.

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Under the new law possession of fewer than three ounces of Marijuana is considered recreational use and is fully legal for people over 21.

Cities, towns, and villages will still have the ability to “opt-out”, therefore local governments and municipalities will have the final say.

If you look at other states in the country that have legalized marijuana, the economic benefit was enormous. Marijuana sales are through the roof and that means tax money that goes to local governments. The new law is expected to raise about $350 million per year. It will be interesting to see if any of the local governments will forgo the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what will happen to individuals who have already been arrested and jailed for possessing and selling marijuana.

A couple of months back we reported on a recent report conducted by the Albany Police Department found that 97% of the people arrested or ticketed for marijuana were black. The investigation was conducted from July 9, 2019 to July 9, 2020.

The report determined that police made arrests or wrote tickets 134 times during the investigation. Out of the 134 people arrested or ticketed only four individuals were white. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Albany’s black population is only 30% yet we see arrests totaling 97%.

These statistics show the inequities that Black people struggle with in the US justice system. I want to know what will be done for the individuals who have been arrested or ticketed for possessing marijuana. Will they be released from jail? Will they have their money refunded? I don’t have the answers to these questions, we will just have to wait and see.

Capital Region Mugshots 03.02.21

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