June 13, 2022 10:11 am ETEstimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Cannabis prohibition started back in the early 1900s in America. States in the east were among the first in the nation to support prohibition. Lawmakers of the time limited public access to cannabis for strictly medical use back in 1914. By 1927—a decade before cannabis was outlawed federally—the state of New York had outlawed cannabis altogether.
An early opponent of cannabis prohibition was Fiorello Henry La Guardia, the 99th mayor of New York City (1934 to 1945). He is known throughout the cannabis community for his requested “Committee Report on Marijuana.” This report debunked the gateway drug theory and many other myths created about cannabis but was largely ignored for a very long time.
Nearly eight decades later, New York is seeing a change in cannabis policy. The state legalized recreational-use cannabis last year and is gearing up to launch sales in the coming months.
As Residents Await Dispensaries, Illicit Sales Continue
Many New Yorkers haven’t been so keen on the idea of waiting for retail sales to launch, however. In fact, law enforcement’s interest in prosecuting illegal cannabis operations seemed to diminish following the legalization of recreational cannabis in the state, and New York City street peddlers are currently operating like legal dispensaries in broad daylight. Considering that not long ago people were being patted down and detained at the slightest whiff of cannabis, this is a huge turn of events.
Street peddlers aren’t the only ones jumping on this lucrative market. Other New York entrepreneurs, such as food trucks, are capitalizing on the green too. Brightly colored trucks selling cannabis can be found parked in places like the lower east side of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the upper west side, and even a location a block away from Grand Central Station.
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When cannabis is purchased from a street peddler in New York, it is considered a donation rather than a purchase. For example, a $60 “donation” will get you 3.5 grams of cannabis. While operations like this are bound to pop up in places lacking regulated sales, they still pose serious risks to consumers. Illicit cannabis doesn’t undergo testing like dispensary-sold cannabis, meaning it could be low quality, falsely labeled, or even laced with dangerous substances like fentanyl.
The city’s illicit market is likely to dwindle soon, though, as legal businesses begin opening their doors. New York has issued more than 50 licenses for cannabis cultivation to companies already cultivating industrial hemp. Expectations are that crops will be ready to harvest soon and available for sale this fall.
NYC is Going, Going, Gone…Green
Cannabis possession and consumption are legal in the state of New York both medically and recreationally. Adults 21 and older are allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants at one time and have up to 5 pounds at their residence. Adults 21 and older are also allowed to have up to 3 ounces of cannabis flower or 24 grams of concentrates on them in public. If you can smoke a cigarette in New York, you can smoke a joint too—including while you’re walking down the street.
As hard as it is to believe, cops in New York just don’t seem to care about cannabis anymore. New York has historically had a reputation for supporting and enforcing cannabis prohibition, and the negative impact that federal marijuana prohibition has had on communities of color throughout the state of New York is irreparable. Moving forward, New York has an opportunity to break the vicious cycles of the past.
After decades of being harassed and worse due to connections with cannabis, citizens of New York can finely take a deep breath and enjoy their cannabis without fear of jail time. Make sure to follow Veriheal for more updates on New York’s upcoming recreational launch.
Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur, and activist that fights to end prohibition globally for a better future for all. Ashley has a passion for sharing education pertaining to the goddess plant known as cannabis. She believes that a single seed can tip the scales and that together through education we can end the stigma that is preventing cannabis from flowering to its full potential globally.
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