Hundreds of thousands of people across the state have been funneled into New York’s criminal justice system for behavior most people do not believe should be a crime. Four out of five of those arrested were Black or Latinx. Beyond jail time, arrests put educational and employment opportunities at risk, as well as housing and child custody, and more.

Finally, in March of 2021, after years of pressure from the NYCLU and other groups, New York passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) into law. The MRTA is the nation’s most comprehensive policy to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana with equity.

Under the MRTA, adults 21 and older will be able to legally possess, transport, purchase, consume, and share up to three ounces of marijuana. The bill removes marijuana and marijuana products from the state Controlled Substances Act, legalizes private cultivation of up to six plants, and eliminates most existing misdemeanors and felonies related to marijuana from the state penal law. 

The MRTA rights a decades-long wrong and is a major step towards ending the failed war on drugs.