BINGHAMTON, NY – A local advocacy group is celebrating the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act for its impact on social justice issues.
Truth Pharm held a news conference today touting the benefits of marijuana legalization.
The organization, which advocates for harm reduction measures for people who use or are addicted to opioids, says users do not overdose on marijuana and that the drug often helps those in opioid recovery.
Plus, tax revenue from the eventual sale of pot will help fund schools, addiction treatment programs and offer low-interest loans so that people of color can get into the cannabis business.
Truth Pharm founder Alexis Pleus says the criminalization of weed has ruined many lives.
“You can have up to 5 pounds of marijuana in your home, or cannabis in your home. And you can have up to 3 ounces on your person. If you have been arrested or incarcerated for that in the past, your record is immediately expunged. In some other states where they have legalized, people have had to apply for expungement of their records, it is automatic in New York State,” says Pleus.
State Senator Fred Akshar says that while he supports medical marijuana, including for those in recovery from other drugs, he voted against this bill.
He says it doesn’t adequately address the harms that marijuana addiction can pose.
And, he says that without the technology to properly identify impairment, cannabis users pose a threat to public safety on the roads and in our community.
“When it came to the issue of drug recognition experts, seeing the words “subject to available appropriations” that should raise a red flag for everyone. The bill just did not address the public safety component,” says Akshar.
While possession of certain amounts of marijuana is now legal in the state, it will likely be until late next year that the bureaucratic framework for buying and selling the product is developed and adopted by the Office of Cannabis Management.