The New York State Health Department has begun hosting public forums to discuss and listen to local opinions on the good and bad of legalizing marijuana and the expansion of the state's medical program. Legislation is currently being drafted after the governor's commissioned study on the potential of legalization supported the pros far beyond the cons in New York. The medical marijuana program is fairly limited in New York but with the neighboring states' incoming or currently active recreational programs officials want to be prepared for one of their own. The NYPD has been instructed to stop arresting for low-level cannabis possession but advocates say that's not enough. Some have suggested the importance of incoming legislation removing the ability of law enforcement to arrest or pursue searches strictly on the smell of marijuana lone, which has been compared as a new "de facto stop-and-frisk". Advocates are pushing for a well-rounded program that will not only protect citizens from injustices in the future but also makeup for the wrongs of the past.
Although some who spoke at the forum Monday evening expressed concerns about the public health impact of regulating marijuana like alcohol or cigarettes, most said they strongly supported legalization. But proponents urged the state to take care in designing the new regulations to correct the harms that have been done to communities of color through the lopsided enforcement of marijuana laws thus far, and to ensure that the legal marijuana industry doesn’t become dominated by big corporations and venture capital.
Original article: http://gothamist.com/2018/09/19/marijuana_listening_sessions.php