New York Assembly Holds Hearing on Recreational Marijuana

New York lawmakers met on Monday to hear testimony and review studies on recreational marijuana. The hearing was held in the state Assembly and included the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Committee. Experts from a wide range of industries including medical professionals and law enforcement attending the hearing.

The Assembly reviewed key concerns that adult use marijuana brings up to the state. Principal among them is the impact the law would have on the state's minority populations. They reviewed studies detailing how marijuana prohibition results in a disproportionate number of black and Latino arrests each year over small amounts of the drug.

The hearing also included a review of the current state marijuana law, which has not been amended in 40 years.

The advocacy group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation presented the argument that recreational use marijuana laws protect public health. The doctors say marijuana becomes safer in a regulated market due to product testing, labeling, and secure distribution. In contrast, the illegal market leads to dangerous synthetic versions of the drug, or substitutes like the drugs commonly known as spice and K2.

The hearing does not guarantee New York will legalize adult use marijuana this year, but it is a significant step in that direction. New York continues to struggle with its medical marijuana regulations, which many experts have criticized as being too restrictive to be effective and encouraging the marijuana black market.

New York took action late last year to make its medical marijuana program more accessible for patients, but patients in the state say they still struggle to find doctors who will prescribe the drug.

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