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New York Governor Signs Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in New York

The State of New York has legalized the use of recreational marijuana and has enacted a program that will reinvest a goal of 40% of tax revenues from cannabis into minority communities.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill a day after the state Senate voted 40-23 and the state Assembly voted 100-49 in favor of the bill. This makes New York the 15th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The legalization is effective immediately, but legal sales are not expected to begin for at least a year.

Legalizing recreational marijuana is expected to eventually produce $350 million in annual revenue to the state of New York, with a 13% tax that includes a 9% state tax and a 4% local tax. The measure also includes a potency tax of as much as 3 cents per milligram of THC, the natural psychoactive component of cannabis. An estimate from Cuomo’s office predicts that this new legislation could bring in 60,000 jobs to the state when the industry is fully established.

Additionally, it will create equity programs to provide loans and grants to disenfranchised individuals and 50% of adult-use licenses will be specially allocated for social equity applicants and small businesses. The measure will also expunge the criminal records of tens of thousands of people. The measure allows for possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate and allows for the growth of up to six plants at home and eventually, cannabis will be allowed for home delivery.

The bill ensures that there will be a well-regulated industry established so consumers know exactly what they will be getting when they purchase cannabis products in the state. This will be accomplished by establishing an Office of Cannabis Management which will be an independent agency that will work alongside the New York State Liquor Authority to regulate the recreational and medical cannabis market. This agency will be overseen by the new Cannabis Control Board which will be controlled by five members- three appointed by the governor and one each appointed by the state Senate and state Assembly.

New Yorkers will be permitted to smoke cannabis in public wherever smoking tobacco is allowed. However, localities could create regulations to control public smoking within each individual jurisdiction.

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