New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), who not long ago called marijuana a “gateway drug,” released a state Health Department report stating the “positive effects” of legalization “outweigh the potential negative impacts.”
The 74-page analysis released Friday concludes that the benefits of legalization outweigh potential risks. It suggests that New York state could raise nearly $700 million in tax revenue, and that legalization won’t necessarily increase rates of cannabis consumption by adults or teens.
“Regulation of marijuana benefits public health by enabling government oversight of the production, testing, labeling, distribution, and sale of marijuana. The creation of a regulated marijuana program would enable NYS to better control licensing, ensure quality control and consumer protection, and set age and quantity restrictions,” reads the report according to Forbes.
“Numerous NYS agencies and subject matter experts in the fields of public health, mental health, substance use, public safety, transportation, and economics worked in developing this assessment,” reads the 75-page document, “No insurmountable obstacles to regulation of marijuana were raised.”
The Health Department study also concluded that legalized cannabis reduces risks related to unregulated black market marijuana and improves quality control and consumer protection.
The report noted that states with legal marijuana have slightly higher rates of youth consumption compared to non-legal states although legalization does not appear to be the primary factor behind that trend, according to a survey of more than 4,000 teenagers throughout the United States.
Legalizing marijuana could reduce opioid dependency while eliminating criminal penalties that disproportionately impact minorities was another important point in the report.
“The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in NYS outweigh the potential negative impacts. Areas that may be a cause for concern can be mitigated with regulation and proper use of public education that is tailored to address key populations,” the report says in conclusion.
“Incorporating proper metrics and indicators will ensure rigorous and ongoing evaluation.”
Governor Cuomo sharply changed his anti-weed stance under pressure from legalization advocates, who include his Democratic primary opponent, “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon.