How Will NYC’s Next Mayor Handle The New Weed Economy?


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On Wednesday, New York turned the fifteenth state to legalize marijuana, and our subsequent mayor will assist form the way forward for hashish within the metropolis. Whereas marijuana legal guidelines are written by the state legislature, town’s mayor nonetheless wields immense energy over how these legal guidelines are enforced, as a result of they management the NYPD.

Marijuana possession was the primary reason behind arrest within the metropolis in 2010, throughout Mayor Micheal Bloomberg’s administration. Over his three phrases, the NYPD made 440,000 arrests for pot, and the overwhelming majority of these arrested have been folks of colour. Whereas Mayor Invoice de Blasio helped to drastically cut back the variety of marijuana arrests the NYPD remodeled his eight years in workplace, the racial disparities persevered.

In 2020, there have been solely 437 marijuana-related arrests within the metropolis; 93% of these folks arrested have been Black or Latino, though white residents make up 45% of town’s inhabitants and marijuana use tends to be equal amongst racial teams.

Along with setting the tone for enforcement, the following mayor will even decide how tens of millions of {dollars} of recent native tax income from the hashish business will probably be spent. The state tasks the primary 12 months of legalized weed to herald $350 million, whereas localities have the chance to levy a 4% gross sales tax on hashish, cut up between the county and town.

“There are lots of alternatives for the following mayor of NYC to be actually intentional about how town will marshall sources to be able to assist social fairness candidates inside the business particularly for small companies and employee cooperatives,” stated Melissa Moore, the state director of the NY’s Drug Coverage Alliance, who labored to move the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

Whereas licensing for dispensaries and “consumption websites” will probably be accomplished by way of the state’s not-yet-created Workplace of Hashish Administration, the mayor and metropolis council will management the time, place, method, and zoning of the place companies may be positioned and function, in accordance with Moore.

Anticipating future licensing hurdles for people and companies will even be on the mayor’s agenda.

“The following mayor can actually tackle that problem and attempt to be artistic and progressive by way of actually constructing out further assist on the metropolis degree,” Moore stated, noting that the mayor may create an advisory committee which would supply further help.

New Yorkers are utilizing marijuana greater than ever, in accordance with a report by the Metropolis Division of Well being and Psychological Hygiene, which discovered 1.1 million metropolis residents used marijuana at the least as soon as in 2015-2016. The report discovered white residents accounted for a few quarter of marijuana customers, in comparison with 14% of Black and 12% of Latino New Yorkers.

A chart showing the various responses from mayoral candidates about the last time they have used cannabis.

The eight Democratic mayoral candidates totally again the legalization and the expungement of previous convictions, and agree that the business’s tax income would profit town. However with regards to town creating its native hashish business, the distribution of jobs and tax income, and educating the general public on marijuana security, their proposals and concepts fluctuate.


Donavan says the hashish business might be a wonderful income for town. Parts of that income ought to be put aside for restorative justice, public transit enhancements, and used to assist capital expenditures, in accordance with Donavan. (The candidate didn’t present any particular figures or percentages.)

As for restorative justice, Black and brown New Yorkers, in addition to minority and women-owned enterprise enterprises (MWBE), ought to be included and supplied good-paying union jobs if town creates a neighborhood business, he says.

Donovan plans on creating town’s first Chief Fairness Workplace, whose chief will instantly report and work with him to make sure fairness all through town, together with marijuana-related choices.

Donavan additionally stated he’s a fan of California’s Social Fairness Program, which allocates $30 million in funding to hashish entrepreneurs from communities impacted by the drug warfare and is open to insurance policies prefer it. “Whichever manner our metropolis decides to maneuver ahead, we should achieve this in a manner that’s equitable and simply,” Donavan informed Gothamist/WNYC.

His administration would develop culturally element and multilingual schooling campaigns to tell metropolis residents on marijuana security. Donavan additionally plans on utilizing his 15 minute neighborhoods plan, which is able to join New Yorkers to well being care providers, as a approach to additional educate folks.

And a query we requested all of the candidates: It is 2022, and you’re the mayor. An NYPD officer walks by way of a park and sees a bunch of younger adults sitting just a few yards away, smoking marijuana. What ought to occur subsequent?

“The officer smiles and will get again to his job of investigating and stopping severe violent crimes and protecting weapons off our streets,” Donovan replied.


Garcia stated that marijuana ought to be handled like alcohol, and that she sees legalization as a chance to proper previous wrongs and meet neighborhood wants. “We should always not hold marijuana within the prison code, and shouldn’t impose harsher new penalties on New Yorkers who violate legalized marijuana guidelines,” she informed Gothamist/WNYC.

Reparations to the Black and brown communities impacted by marijuana is a precedence for Garcia. A focused focus will probably be round structuring licenses for Black and Latino entrepreneurs to partake and succeed within the business. Garcia says she is going to create alternatives for financial mobility for justice-involved people.

Her administration will use marijuana arrests knowledge and discover communities adversely impacted by hashish and put money into them by way of generated funds, though she didn’t specify any quantities. Garcia will use the business’s tax income to create new anti-violence applications and fund current ones like treatment violence.

With regard to educating the general public on marijuana security, Garcia would create citywide applications and supplies in collaboration with medical consultants, DOHMH, universities, neighborhood facilities, and trusted leaders and organizations in addition to make all info language accessible.

It is 2022, and you’re the mayor. An NYPD officer walks by way of a park and sees a bunch of younger adults sitting just a few yards away, smoking marijuana. What ought to occur subsequent?

“The Metropolis has made strides in ensuring that public areas are preserved for all by eliminating cigarette use in parks and seashores—it’s an environmentally sound coverage that retains the bottom away from cigarette butts!” Garcia stated. “Smoking in parks wouldn’t be a precedence for NYPD enforcement underneath my administration.”


McGuire says the state should give town the flexibility to use native tax on marijuana when it’s legalized, and guarantee state tax income is reinvested into town. (The MRTA states that the sale of marijuana will probably be accompanied by a 9 p.c state tax, three p.c native tax, and one p.c county tax.)

A thriving hashish business will steadiness the scales of justice, in accordance with McGuire, who plans on offering jobs to communities instantly harm by marijuana convictions. He plans on having a deputy mayor who overlooks honest and equitable contracts to Black-owned and Black women-owned companies.

McGuire was the primary candidate to launch a complete marijuana plan for town. “The hashish business in NYC with the precise folks on the desk, correct schooling, centered round folks instantly impacted by the criminalization of marijuana, and centered on Black and brown entrepreneurs could be a gold normal for the hashish business nationwide,” McGuire informed Gothamist/WNYC.

McGuire will advocate for increasing the listing of circumstances that qualify for hashish prescriptions, which has been confirmed to be useful with innumerable medical circumstances.

He would suggest a science-based curriculum to coach younger folks on marijuana security in addition to accomplice with DOHMH to tell metropolis residents. McGuire says he would fund native organizations which can be already embedded inside communities to additional educate folks. Training can be important with regards to regulation enforcement, McGuire says, “we will even guarantee officers obtain marijuana schooling and coaching on correct protocol.”


Morales stated she is going to decriminalize all drug use and possession of a restricted quantity of medication, together with marijuana, inside the metropolis by terminating all hashish arrests and summonses by the NYPD. Following legalization in different states, racial disparities in marijuana-related arrests normally persist however she says she is going to guarantee that isn’t the case right here.

Morales helps an agenda that reserves a bit of the authorized marketplace for Black and brown entrepreneurs and employee self-managed cooperatives. She pledges to offer folks negatively affected by prohibition with metropolis help in establishing a dispensary, and incentivize these companies to open up in Black and brown neighborhoods. These companies can be inspired to re-invest cash and jobs in hard-hit areas, and a Morales administration would assist them by way of the MWBE program and the Division of Small Enterprise Companies.

“Each funding and coverage choice I make will middle and prioritize the folks our metropolis has left behind — Black and Brown residents, immigrants, and the working poor. That’s who the warfare on medicine focused and that’s who will profit most from hashish business tax income,” Morales informed Gothamist/WNYC. Tax income from the hashish business can be instantly put in direction of social providers that prioritize susceptible metropolis residents underneath her administration. She will even hyperlink the hashish business to the healthcare business, “to make sure the medicinal benefits of hashish are accessible to all communities, not simply these with entry,” she says.

As mayor, Morales needs to completely grasp the consequences of the warfare on medicine and the price of repairs and plans to create a examine that outlines all of it. Training surrounding marijuana will probably be accomplished by way of a language justice lens, Morales added. Her focus will probably be on normalizing the secure use of marijuana, as a substitute of including to the stigmatization of hashish customers.

It is 2022, and you’re the mayor. An NYPD officer walks by way of a park and sees a bunch of younger adults sitting just a few yards away, smoking marijuana. What ought to occur subsequent?

“Completely nothing,” Morales stated.


Stringer stated that town ought to get rid of “all marijuana-related enforcement and issuing of summonses, the burdens of which proceed to be borne by Black and Latino New Yorkers.”

He added that he helps legalization and is a fan of the MRTA as a result of it explicitly contains fairness provisions that mirror communities most harmed by marijuana.

Stringer’s workplace has outlined how useful the hashish market might be by way of a 2018 evaluation that discovered it may herald $336 million in annual tax income for town alone. “The authorized market will generate billions of {dollars}, and we should be sure that within the course of, we right historic injustice and supply alternatives to working New Yorkers — not Wall Avenue or large companies,” he informed Gothamist/WNYC.

Stringer already requested the creation of a citywide fairness program that assists native entrepreneurs within the business as comptroller and would make it a actuality as mayor. Referring to it as an “incubator hub,” this system would assist New Yorkers (with precedence given to these with prior convictions themselves or a member of the family) navigate the rules, licensing procedures, and financing.

His administration would additionally deal with educating metropolis residents by way of a public well being marketing campaign.

It is 2022, and you’re the mayor. An NYPD officer walks by way of a park and sees a bunch of younger adults sitting just a few yards away, smoking marijuana. What ought to occur subsequent?

“Nothing ought to occur subsequent,” Stringer replied. “The officer ought to hold strolling and proceed their on-duty obligations.”


Yang would direct regulation enforcement companies to instantly cease investigating, arresting, and prosecuting all minor marijuana offenses. Yang additionally stated he helps prohibiting low-level marijuana offenses from being utilized in pretrial launch, probation, and parole choices together with offering sure protections with regards to discrimination towards people who recreationally use hashish.

He would create a social fairness program to offer coaching, mentorship, and monetary assist to these disproportionately harmed by marijuana legal guidelines. This system will even use the income introduced in by the business to fund and assist companies owned by people of colour by way of numerous means like precedence licensing, waiving charges and taxes, and offering technical {and professional} steerage.

Yang helps a city-owned native hashish business, he informed Gothamist/WNYC, one thing that isn’t potential underneath the MRTA, in accordance with Moore of the Drug Coverage Alliance.

“There’s lots of potential for this market to thrive right here whereas producing income that will assist repair our ongoing funds shortfalls so we will put money into extra applications to assist New Yorkers,” Yang informed Gothamist/WNYC. As mayor, he would require and incentivize companies to rent a sure proportion of workers who’ve been harmed by marijuana prohibition.

Yang would educate New Yorkers on marijuana security by way of a Division of Well being and Psychological Hygiene marketing campaign.

It is 2022, and you’re the mayor. An NYPD officer walks by way of a park and sees a bunch of younger adults sitting just a few yards away, smoking marijuana. What ought to occur subsequent?

“The very same factor that will occur if these younger adults have been smoking tobacco or consuming in a spot that prohibited it,” Yang stated. “We shouldn’t be treating marijuana in a different way than different substances, particularly once we know that strict enforcement finally ends up disproportionately hurting Black and Brown New Yorkers.”

marijuana and rolling papers


Peter Morgan/AP/Shutterstock

Candidates Maya Wiley and Eric Adams didn’t reply to our questionnaire. Right here is their temporary stance on marijuana within the metropolis from a VOCAL discussion board on March seventeenth.


Adams helps marijuana legalization and as mayor, his administration would help these concerned within the drug commerce to change into distributors.

“I’ve been a robust proponent of the legalization of marijuana, with revenues earmarked to the communities which have traditionally borne the brunt of over-policing because of the warfare on medicine,” Adams stated on the discussion board.


Wiley backs the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana and helps reinvesting income into Black and brown communities in addition to expunging all low-level drug convictions.

“As Mayor, I’ll convene the District Attorneys, the NYPD, DOHMH and others to create a unified strategy to minimizing enforcement of outdated legal guidelines and changing the fee related to that enforcement with confirmed helps and non-criminal justice interventions,” Wiley stated on the discussion board.