NY state poised to legalize possession, sale of cannabis

Thursday, 01 Apr, 2021

NY adults over the age of 21 can now possess and use marijuana - even in public - under a legalization bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though legal sales of recreational-use cannabis won't start for an estimated 18 months until regulations are set.

New York's legalization of recreational marijuana could generate $5 billion in sales for the first year and raises pressure on other states to follow the 16 that have now approved the plant for everyday use, the head of one of the country's biggest producers said on Wednesday.

NY would automatically clear records of people with past convictions of marijuana-related offenses that would no longer be criminalized.

"If you ever had a conviction for a marijuana offense and that behavior is now legal, that record is automatically expunged", Northup says.

Cuomo and top Democrats in the Assembly and Senate announced Saturday they reached an agreement to expand the state's existing medical marijuana program, allow individual New Yorkers to grow six plants for personal consumption and set up a licensing and taxation system for recreational sales.

Several parts of the legislation would take effect immediately: New Yorkers could legally possess less than 3 ounces of marijuana outside the home.

The taxes are considerable: a 9% statewide sales tax, an additional 4% county and local tax and another tax based on the level of THC, marijuana's active ingredient.

"You're not going to be ticketed for it unless you're driving or your smoking where smoking is not allowed", said New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

On twitter, reactions to the news was mixed. Additionally, the bill allows localities to impose additional restrictions. "More than two-thirds of Americans believe it's time to end prohibition and this move represents the latest example of elected officials joining the chorus of support for legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults", Hawkins added.

Joseph Bayern, CEO of Curaleaf Holdings Inc, the largest USA cannabis company by market value, called New York's legalization a "significant milestone for the cannabis industry" and said he now expects Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland would likely follow suit.

Some were not as impressed, tweeting that there should not be a limit on how much marijuana a resident can grow in their homes.

The legislation also provide protections for people from being discriminated for marijuana use in public housing, schools and colleges and the workplace.

NY is the 16th state to legalize marijuana, joining neighboring MA and New Jersey. "We're the ones that provide mental health services". "I'm proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis". A 2019 law already expunged many past convictions and reduced the penalty for possessing small amounts.

"I am grateful to those legislative leaders and members who have expressed enthusiasm about returning to the people's work so soon after a challenging 60-day session", she said.

Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio said the bill long overdue, tweeting 'This is about righting a wrong.

"This is a massive success for all New Yorkers, especially the Black and brown survivors of racist prohibition", Williams added. Healing begins now in our state'.

Observers say New York's move, which follows legalization in neighboring MA and New Jersey, builds momentum for legalization efforts nationwide.