Health Department in favor of legalizing recreational pot

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1:37pm The state Health Department recommended expunging the criminal records of New Yorkers convicted of marijuana offenses as it issued a report Friday calling for the legalization of recreational pot. Legalization would stop cops disproportionately arresting stoners of color: Last year, 48 percent of those nabbed for pot possession in the state were black, 38 percent were Hispanic, and only 9 percent were white, despite all races toking up equally, the study found. To address that disparity, the report also recommends following in the footsteps of San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle by agreeing to “review, recall, re-sentence, potentially dismiss, and seal” past misdemeanor and felony marijuana convictions. “We recommend NYS expunge the criminal records of individuals with marijuana-related offenses,” the agency said in its 74-page report. As the largest reefer market in the country, New York could harvest as much as $677.7 million a year by taxing the estimated 300 tons of wacky tabacky that state residents are already smoking at a rate of 7 to 10 percent, the report found. It recommends limiting the number of licenses for growers, manufacturers and sellers — and following in the footsteps of Massachusetts by giving priority to people of color, those who live in areas where pot arrests are high, and businesses willing to employ workers with drug-related criminal records. Health Department in favor of legalizing recreational pot

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