NY state passes bill legalizing recreational marijuana

New York state passes bill legalizing recreational marijuana

NY would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and eventually allow marijuana sales to people over the age of 21 under a bill that's among the nation's most sweeping and passed the Senate with a party-line 40-23 vote Tuesday.

The Senate voted 40-23 in favor and the Assembly approved it 100-49.

NY will start automatically expunging the criminal records of individuals with certain past marijuana-related convictions, and law enforcement in the state won't be able to arrest or prosecute individuals for possession of marijuana up to 3 ounces.

Adults will be permitted to grow up to six marijuana plants per person in a residential household, however, half of the plants must remain immature.

According to the bill, NY will seek to have 50 percent of marijuana licenses go to underrepresented communities, and it will provide protection for people from being discriminated against for marijuana use in public housing, schools and colleges, and the workplace.

For years, Cuomo's administration sought to legalize cannabis, which could eventually bring in upwards of $350 million annually for the state.

"I'm driving this because I want people to be free from incarceration for a drug that people in their communities use every day", Stokes said.

Embattled New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that legalizes recreational marijuana in the Empire state - making New York the 16th State in the country to legalize sales to adults. NY would become the third state where lawmakers, rather than voters, have approved legalization.

"The last time New York State did anything like this is when we were removing the prohibition from alcohol: that was in 1933", she added.

NY would set a 9% sales tax on cannabis, plus an additional 4% tax split between the county and local government.

An additional tax of five center per milligram for flower, eight center per milligram of concentrate, and three cents per milligram for edibles will be imposed depending on the level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana. That's a step beyond a 2019 law that expunged many past convictions for marijuana possession and reduced the penalty for possessing small amounts. And police could no longer use the odor of cannabis as a reason for searching someone's vehicle for contraband.

Meanwhile, sales wouldn't start until NY sets up regulations and a proposed cannabis board.

While the marketplace will take a while to set up, estimates by the trade publication Marijuana Business Daily show NY could become the largest on the East Coast - generating a potential $2.3 billion in annual sales by its fourth year.

Consumers could then get marijuana deliveries, or visit new social lounges where they could consume marijuana.

As a result, she called the March 30 special session to take up a pair of economic and job creation items that were left unfinished: legalizing adult-use cannabis and expanding the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA), Lujan Grisham announced in a press release Friday.

The legislation will create the Office of Cannabis Management, which will regulate the sale and distribution of both recreational and medical marijuana, which was legalized in 2014. The move comes after multiple failed attempts at legalization in NY, and makes it the 15th state to legalize weed.

Democrats, who now wield a veto-proof majority in the state Legislature, say the legislation addresses concerns from Republicans, law enforcement groups and some suburban Democrats. But those local governments can not opt out of allowing adults to consume marijuana.

Still to be determined - where will these cannabis retail establishments be allowed?

NY officials plan to conduct a study that will examine the extent that cannabis impairs driving, and whether it depends on factors like time and metabolism.

Before selling can begin, the state must set up rules and a proposed cannabis board.

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