Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday morning to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana to possess and grow in New York.
“This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Recreational Marijuana to possess and grow in New York
New Yorkers aged 21 and above can now possess up to three ounces of cannabis. And they can grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use at home. The potential $4.2 billion industry will provide $350 million tax revenue for the state.
They are also allowed to smoke cannabis in public where tobacco smoking is permitted. However, a new state agency and localities could formulate regulations to control cannabis smoking in public. But cannabis smoking is not allowed in schools, offices, or cars.
The legislation aims to focus on providing half of the marijuana licenses to people from underrepresented communities.
“By placing community reinvestment, social equity, and justice front and center, this law is the new gold standard for reform efforts nationwide,” said Melissa Moore, New York state director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
The new law would permit cities and villages to step away from allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site usage licenses. A local law would pass by Dec. 31, 2021, or nine months after the effective date of the legislation. They cannot withdraw from legalization.
$300 million in annual tax revenues
Cuomo said it could take many years to receive about $300 million in annual tax revenues. California had to cut $223 million from state budget projections in 2019 because of slower pot sales.
Tax revenues from marijuana would cover the state’s cost of controlling and implementing the marijuana legalization law. The remaining will be used for schools, drug treatment, and prevention programs. Besides, a fund for job skills, adult education, mental health, and other community services.
New York will put a 9% sales tax on cannabis and an additional 4% county and local tax. And another tax based on THC level, the active ingredient in marijuana.