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How Cannabis Legalization Has Changed New York

Some people in New York welcome the change and see legalization as a step toward individual freedom and speak of a more sensible drug policy. They believe that legalizing cannabis will ease the burden on law enforcement and free up police resources for more important tasks. Legalizing cannabis is also an important reason to counter systemic racism in the U.S., in the eyes of advocates



The legalization of cannabis for recreational use has drastically changed not only the smell of New York but also the social, economic, and cultural fabric of the world’s metropolis. On March 31st, 2021 – just over two years ago – New York became the 15th U.S. state to allow the free use of cannabis to individuals 21 and older.

Other states, such as California, were ahead of New York, legalizing the sale and consumption of “weed,” as Americans call the intoxicant, as early as 2016. Cannabis consumption has become a fast-growing market in the sunny West.

Read more about the cannabis market in New York and find the latest cannabis news of the day with the mobile app.

However, New York is rapidly catching up, according to Forbes Magazine

The metropolis and state will be the second largest legal cannabis market in the U.S. after California within the next five years, with an estimated market volume of $4.2 billion (€3.9 billion).

Cannabis is not only filling the coffers of suppliers, however, but is massively changing the general mood in the city. Kelly, 22, is a student in New York and is experiencing the change firsthand.

Even before legalization, consumers could easily buy cannabis in the numerous unlicensed cannabis stores. However, they risked often receiving cut cannabis. Sellers often mixed the narcotic with other substances to cut down on pure cannabis and make more profit. “These days, you can smoke pot with more confidence, and access to high-quality products has improved,” Kelly said. But the biggest difference, according to Kelly, is increased openness and transparency on the streets. “Before, most of it was hidden; now you can openly enjoy your cannabis without paranoia.” Students at her university also smoke cannabis in public, although Fordham University in the Bronx borough, for example, describes itself as a “drug- and alcohol-free campus.” “The university is aware that many of the students use cannabis, but they also know it’s unavoidable,” Kelly said.

Americans are reacting to cannabis legalization in different ways

Some welcome the change and see legalization as a step toward individual freedom and speak of a more sensible drug policy. They believe that legalizing cannabis will ease the burden on law enforcement and free up police resources for more important tasks. Legalizing cannabis is also an important reason to counter systemic racism in the U.S., in the eyes of advocates. That’s the view of one former police officer, New York Mayor Eric Adams.

According to the city leader, this is “a new chapter for all those who have been most harmed by the failed policies of the past,” as he told Die Welt. He is referring to the stigmatization of black people, who – unlike with alcohol – were blamed for the drug’s use as a character flaw

Others, however, express concerns about possible negative effects on health and society. There is debate about how cannabis legalization will affect crime and whether cannabis use could lead to an increase in traffic accidents. Fundamentally, there is a fear that increased access to cannabis is likely to lead to a general increase in drug use and could serve as a gateway to more dangerous drugs.

The legalization of cannabis and the easier access that comes with it also affects minors. They could be enticed to try the drug even though they would not yet have learned to deal with the potential risks and effects. Disciplinary data from the city Department of Education shows that alcohol and drug offenses are up 10 percent this year compared to 2019, The New York Times reported. This data suggests that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. Furthermore, not everyone finds the sweet smell of cannabis pleasant and wants to have to smell it on every street corner. Others, like non-smokers, fear that they will become involuntary users of the narcotic.

Despite these differing views, however, there is a growing acceptance and tolerance for cannabis use in society and the negative associations that were associated with the use of cannabis have changed for the better. Slowly, cannabis is becoming an integral part of New York culture, attracting tourists from all over the world to try lucrative strains, such as Granddaddy Purple or Silver Haze.

New York is one of many cities adapting to the changing perception around cannabis, which like traditional alcohol has become a modern inevitability. As Germany and other countries consider legalizing cannabis, they should carefully consider New York’s experience. However, according to the legislative plans of the traffic light coalition, it looks like cannabis will soon be smelled in the streets of German cities as well.


(Featured image by Pexels via Pixabay)

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Helene Lindbergh is a published author with books about entrepreneurship and investing for dummies. An advocate for financial literacy, she is also a sought-after keynote speaker for female empowerment. Her special focus is on small, independent businesses who eventually achieve financial independence. Helene is currently working on two projects—a bio compilation of women braving the world of banking, finance, crypto, tech, and AI, as well as a paper on gendered contributions in the rapidly growing healthcare market, specifically medicinal cannabis.