New York must legalize, regulate and restrict access to adult-use cannabis. We must allow our suffering patients full access to medical marijuana. We must allow our farmers to grow industrial hemp without undue restriction.
Our laws have failed and Albany is paralyzed by the entrenched status quo. Laws have not prevented our young people from using marijuana. Instead, our laws have prevented our sick, our elderly and our veterans from accessing the benefits of medical marijuana while forcing them to use much more dangerous drugs. And our laws have prevented our farmers from growing a valuable commodity crop that could revitalize large swaths of our state.
Too many New Yorkers end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug. Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive. It traps too many of us in the criminal justice system for minor, nonviolent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime, corruption and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.
To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of our children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we must legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana in New York State. We must remove cannabis consumption and incidental possession from our laws, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, or sell it outside of our new regulatory framework. We must create a medical marijuana program for our sick, elderly and veteran populations that enables, rather than prohibits, access to this drug. And we must free our farmers to grow this valuable commodity crop without undue restriction.
We will work to approve a New York State Constitutional Convention on Nov 7, 2017. At that convention we will design a system of strict cannabis sales and distribution, with appropriate taxes and license fees, a robust medical marijuana program and a commodity market for industrial hemp for New York voters to decide in 2019.