A measure calling for the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana in New York sailed through the state Assembly yesterday, underscoring growing support for MMJ in the Big Apple.
Don’t expect to see medical cannabis in NY anytime soon: The bill faces plenty of opposition in the Senate – where the measure now heads – and the state’s governor has already said he will veto it anyway.
But don’t write it off as just a symbolic development, either. This is one tangible and important step in a long process, and it will lay the groundwork for MMJ legalization in the years to come. In other states with MMJ laws, medical marijuana initiatives often failed at first, making small gains along the way until finally winning support of the majority of lawmakers and the governor.
How is this any different than the situation in 2007 and 2008, when the NY Assembly also passed medical marijuana bills, to no avail? For one, the entire MMJ landscape has changed since then. Today, 17 states – including several near New York – and the nation’s capital have MMJ laws on the books, and several others could legalize medical cannabis this year. So support for medical marijuana is growing nationally, making it much more acceptable in the public eye.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also is trying to reduce state marijuana penalties in general and has left the door open to MMJ legalization down the road, saying he wants to study the issue further before signing off on any bills. Lastly, the current bill has the support of more than 50 lawmakers and was approved by a wide margin in the Assembly, with 90 lawmakers voting for it and 50 voting against it.
Put it all together, and the prospects for medical marijuana legalization in New York look a lot better in 2013 or 2014.