Where does New York stand on marijuana laws compared to the federal government?

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While New York State is moving in a direction that has appeared to support the marijuana industry, the federal government has been giving mixed messages.

Clarence Thomas, one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative justices, has called the federal government’s stance “half in half out” and that their approach to regulating marijuana is no longer working.

While it remains illegal federally to possess marijuana, thirty six states have currently created medical marijuana laws and eighteen states allow it to be used recreationally.

Lawrence Levy, a Hofstra University professor, says comments like Thomas’s could greatly influence that small conservative communities in New York State.

Levy explains that most of the pushback for legal marijuana is coming from Republicans and conservatives, and someone like Thomas speaking in favor of legalizing it could help these communities get on board.

Due to it being federally illegal, businesses are unable to deduct expenses that partake in the marijuana business.

In 2005 the federal government ruled that it could enforce prohibition against cannabis cultivation in California because the state has the power to regulate interstate commerce, but since then the government has shied away from these types of policies.

This led Thomas to state that since that ruling, the government has been sending mixed signals with its views.

In 2015 President Obama prohibited the Justice Department from spending federal money on preventing states from creating their own marijuana laws.

States have continued to expand their laws surrounding marijuana, and Justice Thomas stated that the governments approach both tolerates and forbids the use of local marijuana.

Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, stated that the nation is facing an addiction crisis after the pandemic, and the federal government should use consistence regulations to clamp down on the marijuana industry.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana does not support the federal government legalizing marijuana, but is in support of a bill that studies health effects of medical marijuana. Niforatos explained that the government needs to take steps toward expanding research and making it available to those that need it medically, but to allow it to be commercialized the way “Big Tobacco” has been should not happen.

Federally, anything that happens is going to take time, but here in New York, things are moving along.

Localities have until December to decide if they want to opt out of the state’s recreational use program. That will be launched sometime in 2022 or 2023. This will allow dispensaries within local jurisdictions.

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