New York Agrees To Legalise Cannabis

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Advocates for the legalization of marijuana march in New York at the annual NYC Cannabis Parade. Photo: Shutterstock

Residents over 21 could buy up to three ounces, and grow up to six plants, for personal use under the new green deal.

New York lawmakers and governor Andrew Cuomo reached an agreement to legalise recreational marijuana, opening the door for a multi-billion dollar industry in the state.

While the legislation was still begin finalised, multiple media outlets report that that “The Cannabis Law” was scheduled to pass next week as part of the state budget due on 1 April.

It may, however, be fast-tracked once language is finalised to be voted on sooner as a stand-alone piece of legislation, lawmakers told The New York Times.

“We will finally be able to say we’re going to have an industry for cannabis that assures people who buy the product that they are buying a legitimate product from legitimate companies,” State Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat who led the negotiations in the upper chamber, told the Times.

The new law, which would apply to New Yorkers over 21-years-old, would make it legal to buy and possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana for personal use, with licensed dispensaries to begin selling product legally as early as December 2022, according to anonymous sources quoted in The New York Post.

Residents could grow up to six plants for recreational use (three mature and three immature), and up to a dozen per household, but not until 18 months after legal dispensaries first open, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, which was first to report the new green deal.

Medical marijuana users, however, would be able to begin growing within six months of the bill passing. The bill is also said to improve the existing medical marijuana programme by expanding the list of conditions covered and doubling supply from 30 to 60 days.

Patients would also be allowed to vape and smoke, while medical marijuana companies would be allowed to enter the recreational market.

The negotiated agreement would reportedly create a new Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board to oversee the industry of recreational and medical marijuana, as well as associated hemp and CBD industries.

Several new state licences for cannabis would be created for farmers, distributors, product makers, dispensaries and retail locations, which would create legal spaces to consume marijuana.

The Office of Cannabis Management would oversee a goal of awarding half of all licences to “social equity applicants” from communities impacted by the war on drugs, according to an internal legislative memo obtained by CNN.

For law enforcement, the plan would include “impairment by cannabis” as part of “driving while ability impaired”, and also give a range of new penalties for unlawful possession and sale of cannabis.

Three ounces of flower and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis would count as a violation, while more than 10 pounds of flower and four pounds of concentrated cannabis would count as a Class D felony, according to the memo.

Cities, towns and villages would have until the end of 2021 to “opt-out” of having dispensaries and retail sites in their communities. Residents could also overturn laws using the state’s referendum process, the memo states.

The cost of the product will be impacted by multiple taxes, with distributors said to pay per-milligram on flowers, concentrate and edibles, and retailers to pay a state tax of nine per cent and a local tax of 4 per cent.

Of the state revenue pulled in by the new taxes, 40 per cent would go toward a new fund for social and economic equity programs while another 40 per cent would be for the state education fund. The remaining 20 per cent would be for drug treatment, prevention and education programs.

The 9 per cent state tax on retail sales could generate $300m a year in new revenue, Ms Krueger told the Post.