Even in states where Cannabis has not yet been legalized for recreational or adult use, many municipalities are starting to consider what they need to do to prepare themselves for legalization. For example, according to recent news reports, local health and criminal justice officials in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have started to prepare for Cannabis Legalization. “Philadelphia experts in psychiatry, public health and law enforcement — including District Attorney Larry Krasner — are taking a ‘not if, but when’ approach.”
Philadelphia has already started examining cannabis legalization efforts in other states and municipalities, and is looking at new research regarding the impacts of legalization, in order to learn from those experiences. For instance, many jurisdictions have explored social justice reforms to correct the disproportionate impacts that cannabis criminalization has historically had on minority populations, and are looking at what can be done at the local level to protect against cannabis use by youths. Other jurisdictions, such as the City of Los Angeles, California have adopted Social Equity Programs “to promote equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities, and to address the disproportionate impacts that cannabis criminalization has had in those communities.”
The preparation for cannabis legalization in Philadelphia is particularly interesting given the conventional wisdom that New York and New Jersey will adopt such legalization legislation before Pennsylvania. This begs the question, why haven’t more municipalities in New York State started to prepare for state-wide legalization / cannabis reform?
Regardless of whether your local government wants to welcome the cannabis industry or protect against its perceived risks, local action can help prepare for what appears to be inevitable: large scale cannabis reform, and legalization for adult use, in New York State.
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