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The Field of Dreams Fallacy: Unpacking New York State's Cannabis Legalization Missteps


In a scenario mirroring the "Field of Dreams" narrative, New York State's venture into cannabis legalization and regulation presents a stark irony. The expectation was simple: legalize cannabis, open dispensaries, and watch as those who once purchased marijuana in the shadows flock to these new, legal establishments. However, this expectation has fallen short, especially among long-time cannabis users, who view this shift through a lens of mistrust and historical burden.

The Misguided 'Field of Dreams' Approach

The state, motivated by the financial successes witnessed in other regions, presumed that the transition from an illegal to a legal cannabis market would be seamless. However, this overlooked a crucial factor - the deeply ingrained distrust within the cannabis community, a result of years of criminalization and stigma.

From Criminals to Consumers: A Bitter Transition

For those who have long been part of the cannabis culture, the transition is fraught with irony. Once targeted as criminals and societal misfits for their cannabis use, these individuals are now expected to become patrons of state-sanctioned dispensaries. This abrupt change in stance by the authorities, from persecutors to providers, has left many long-time cannabis users feeling disillusioned.

Understanding the Real Target Market

New York's legal cannabis market seems to cater not to these veteran users but to a new demographic. This includes individuals who have adhered to the state's previous anti-cannabis stance and a younger generation just reaching the legal age for cannabis consumption. The long-time cannabis enthusiasts, bearing the scars of the War on Drugs, find themselves on the periphery of this new market.

The War on Drugs Legacy

The legalization move fails to fully acknowledge the lasting impact of the War on Drugs on long-time cannabis users. The state's shift from imposing stringent anti-cannabis laws to establishing dispensaries highlights a disconnect. It raises questions about the lack of reparative measures for those who suffered under previous marijuana regulations.


New York State's foray into cannabis legalization, akin to the "Field of Dreams" philosophy, has not accounted for the complex relationship between the state and its long-time cannabis users. As New York moves forward, it's crucial to address these oversights and foster a cannabis market that is inclusive, reparative, and respectful of its historical context.

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1 Comment

they promised us equity. what we got was anything but. the state has decided it's big business as usual. so, now it's "roots vs. suits".

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