On March 31, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. Under this law, New York State (NYS) became the 15th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana. There are, however, many unknowns as far as how the system will be set up in New York, and how that system will work with current federal laws related to marijuana prohibition. This document provides an overview of national and NYS marijuana law, epidemiological research, financial projections, and Odyssey House’s position.
Despite the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in NYS, Odyssey House will continue to treat cannabis use disorders in the same ways as prior to legalization. Odyssey House believes that the legality of marijuana and the health risks are two separate issues, and although the legality has changed, the health risks have not. Individuals with a cannabis use disorder will still require psychosocial treatment and recovery planning, which would be the same for individuals with a cocaine use disorder or other drugs of abuse. Individuals in recovery from marijuana would still be encouraged to avoid alcohol and other psychoactive drugs to help prevent the risk of relapse.
In regards to developing marijuana public policy, we support the following positions:
- Tax money collected through marijuana legalization should be used to fund education, prevention, and substance use disorder treatment, especially for adolescents.
- Research should continue on the effects of legalization on crime, accidents, suicides, mental illness, and treatment admissions.
- States with legalized recreational marijuana should come together to study and share data on the impact of legalization on business growth, tourism, and tax revenue.
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