Mayor of New York Prepares the City for Full Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 06: Marijuana plants are grown at Essence Vegas’ 54,000-square-foot marijuana cultivation facility on July 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On July 1, Nevada joined seven other states allowing recreational marijuana use and became the first of four states that voted to legalize recreational sales in November’s election to allow dispensaries to sell cannabis for recreational use to anyone over 21. Since July 1, sales of cannabis products in the state have generated more than USD 1 million in tax revenue. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, announced last week that he will be launching a new group of the NYPD to prepare for the city-wide legalization of marijuana. On top of this complete acceptance of legal marijuana, he will also be calling for the NYPD to stop arresting citizens who are smoking pot in public.

According to the NY Daily News, de Blasio, who has long opposed legalized recreational marijuana, is now accepting that “legalization is inevitable and is creating an official task force to get ready for the day when that happens.” Before you start celebrating or buy a plane ticket to New York, pot is still illegal for now. Instead of being arrested for smoking recreational marijuana in public, citizens will now be given summonses to appear before a judge. This is a part of a 30-day review de Blasio is implementing due to the lopsided racial disparity at work in marijuana arrests. According to a report by the New York Times, smoking marijuana publicly in New York is extremely common. The Times states, “People smoke walking their dogs in the West Village, and they smoke in apartment building lobbies in the South Bronx. They smoke outside bars and restaurants and in the park.” Yet, white people are rarely arrested for smoking marijuana, while Hispanic and black people do get arrested and according to surveys the Timespoints to, it isn’t because minorities smoke more.

Following the protest on May 6, when “500 marijuana lovers marched through Midtown Saturday demanding full legalization for the wacky weed” rolling an oversized joint, the public seems to have worn down the persistent anti-marijuana mayor De Blasio is preparing New York for full-on legalization by putting together a “task force” of city officials to figure out how to go about full legalization and solving problems such as how cops will handle legal public smokers. According to a report from CNN, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Phil Walzak commented on the task force, saying, “The working group is reviewing possession and public smoking of marijuana to ensure enforcement is consistent with the values of fairness and trust, while also promoting public safety and addressing community concerns.”

This change in tactics from de Blasio isn’t something he’s happy about; in fact, he still doesn’t believe legalization is the best option, but rather that it is “inevitable.” Yet, if it’s going to happen no matter what, he will prepare the city and make the transition safe for the public.

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