420 might feel a little different in New York City this year. 12 months after being forced to celebrate 2020’s 420 under COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, New York cannabis enthusiasts (such as myself) can celebrate their appreciation for marijuana more freely. New York has finally legalized recreational cannabis use for adults that are 21 and over.
The millions of NY-based pot fans, who can now legally use, consume, grow and carry cannabis and cannabis products have a few reasons to rejoice. A relatively harmless habit, which has often been stigmatized, can now help bring additional income into New York State.
According to estimates from the Governor’s office, tax revenue from the legalization of cannabis will at some point on a yearly basis bring in about $350 million and could create tens of thousands of jobs. The extra tax money will support education, as well as community reinvestment and drug treatment programs.
“Legalizing adult-use cannabis isn’t just about creating a new market that will provide jobs and benefit the economy,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who signed the legislation (Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act) which legalized recreational marijuana in NY. “It’s also about justice for long-marginalized communities and ensuring those who’ve been unfairly penalized in the past will now get a chance to benefit.”
Often victims of America’s war on drugs, people of color have throughout the years been hit the hardest by New York’s tough-on-crime approach to marijuana. After the Rockefeller Drug Laws were introduced in the 1970s, the Big Apple became notorious for dishing out harsh penalties such as 15-year sentences for drug offenses often classified as low-level and non-violent. By 2000, nine out of 10 of those locked up under the Rockefeller Drug Laws were Black and Hispanic males.
Due to the Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act, the record of anyone with a weed-related conviction (that is no longer criminalized) will automatically be expunged. A social and economic equity program offering to “assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement that want to participate in the industry” is also being created. The aim is for 50% of cannabis licenses to be issued to minority-owned businesses. Now neighborhood hustlers have the opportunity to join Jay-Z, Steve Urkel, Martha Stewart and others in legally participating in the booming cannabis industry.
It has definitely been a long time coming and to commemorate this moment we’ve put together a playlist with some of our favorite tracks to light one to. Get lifted with A 420 Friendly Playlist.
Photos via Randy Shropshire/Getty Images