New York State is on the cusp of legalising cannabis, as lawmakers have reportedly reached a deal with state Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. This will make New York State’s $4.2 billion recreational cannabis market the largest on the United States East Coast.
According to details obtained by the New York Times, the new deal will see cannabis legalised for adults aged 21 and older. Adults will be allowed to grow up to 6 cannabis plants at home, provided it’s for personal use. Cultivation is permitted inside and outside. Cannabis will also be sold through licensed dispensaries and “consumption sites”. These consumption sites will operate like bars but will not be permitted to sell alcohol alongside cannabis.
While the deal opens the door for personal use, the state will strictly control which companies can enter the recreational cannabis market. Just 900 retail stores will be given licenses to operate, and the state’s ten existing medical cannabis retailers will be allowed to run three recreational cannabis stores. Medical cannabis restrictions will also loosen.
According to State Senator Liz Krueger, New York lawmakers are using the cannabis legalisation deal to right the wrongs of the war on drugs.
When this bill is finally voted on and signed, New York will be able to say we have finally undone damaging criminal justice laws that accomplished nothing but ruining people’s lives.
The new cannabis legalisation deal also provides “equity programs” for people impacted by cannabis prohibition. This includes loans, grants and incubator projects for affected people entering the industry. It also fully expunges the criminal records of people convicted of a newly-legalised offence – like cannabis possession.
New York will tax cannabis products at a rate of 13% once cannabis is legalised. The state will reinvest this money into social equity programs with the following breakdown:
- 40% into communities affected by the war on drugs
- 20% into drug education, treatment and prevention
- 40% into public education
The psychoactive component of cannabis, THC, will also be taxed at a rate of 3 cents per milligram.
New York State’s cannabis legalisation deal was reviewed on Thursday, March 25th, by lawmakers. It could pass the democrat-controlled state legislature as soon as next week. Once Governor Cuomo signs it, the bill will come into effect after six months. Dispensaries and “consumption sites” will take at least a year to open, as lawmakers will need to design a new cannabis regulation system.
If New York can seamlessly pass this legislation, it will become America’s 17th recreational cannabis market.