All it takes is a trip down some suspicious-looking alley in New York City to realize that New Yorkers have a very great affinity (an understatement, if we're speaking truthfully) for marijuana. We are in fact one of the states with the greatest percentage of individuals who smoke marijuana (enumerating only the people who admit to it, of course). Call it weed, molly, kush, dank, mary jane — it doesn't matter. Marijuana has obviously become a defining characteristic of a New Yorker.
A large number of marijuana users consequently implies a large number of marijuana-related arrests. The current law in New York City, the state's most dense area in marijuana usage, dictates that an individual apprehended with under 25 grams of marijuana will be fined a sum of $100. Individuals caught smoking in public areas, however, are subject to greater fines and even jail time.
Living in a world with institutional racism, however, invariably means that certain racial groups are more susceptible to punishment than others. This is one of the numerous issues relating to marijuana use that Cuomo hopes to eradicate with the state-wide legalization of the plant.
Governor Cuomo recently pushed for, in addition to a number of other new plans, the legalization of marijuana sometime next year. This means that we could join the other Democratic states in the nation that have already accomplished so (it's about time). These states have been reaping the benefits; Colorado, for instance, has made millions of dollars in revenue since the legalization of marijuana. These profits can directly fund necessities of the state, infrastructure for instance.
As a resident of New York City myself, the crumbling infrastructure is very apparent. The divide between the rich and the poor seems to grow every day; the impoverished areas of the city continue to decline and the well-off areas the opposite. Money appears to be spent on only selected regions of the city. The MTA, for instance, is in terrible condition and despite the constant fare-hikes, there appears to be no improvement on the overall quality of the entire system.
While there may be a lot of people against the decision to legalize recreational marijuana, it is probably in our best interests as a state to do so. Money from tax-payers is very evidently becoming insufficient to support the increasing needs of the large population. The expected revenue from legalization, according to Cuomo's officials, ranges from 248 to a whopping 677 million dollars. That money could be put to very good use, fixing our roads and trains being a good first option.
Marijuana-related arrests would also entirely diminish, which would save money and also lessen the number of individuals in our jails (arrested for smoking a plant? Thank you, next). Lastly, the legalization of marijuana would most definitely help increase the circulation of better strains of marijuana, as opposed to the ones being sold illegally right now.
Me being a college student may be why I'm advocating so eagerly for this legalization to go through the Senate, but the list of benefits is arguably endless. Fewer people in jail, more money in the government's pockets, a better city and state overall. Sounds like a win-win to me.