Vote to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis in New York Expected This Week
New York’s S.B. S854 would provide the regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis, construct a licensing and taxation system for adult-use sales, create a social and economic equity program to assist individuals impacted by cannabis enforcement and expand the state’s existing medical cannabis and hemp programs, as reported in a press release by ny.gov.
Cuomo’s administration projects that legalization could generate 30,000 to 60,000 jobs across New York and that tax collection from the program could reach $350 million annually, the release states.
« For generations, too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use and sale of adult-use cannabis, arbitrarily arrested and jailed with harsh mandatory minimum sentences. After years of tireless advocacy and extraordinarily hard work, that time is coming to an end in New York state, » Cuomo said. « Legalizing adult-use cannabis isn’t just about creating a new market that will provide jobs and benefit the economy — it’s also about justice for long-marginalized communities and ensuring those who’ve been unfairly penalized in the past will now get a chance to benefit. I look forward to signing this legislation into law. »
According to the release, New York’s Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act contain the following provisions:
- The Office of Cannabis Management would be required to enforce a comprehensive regulatory framework regarding adult-use, medical and cannabinoid hemp, governed by a five-member board, with three members appointed by the governor, one appointed by each house.
- It would increase the number of allotted caregivers per patient, allow home cultivation of medical cannabis for patients and permit people with a substantial list of medical conditions to access medical cannabis.
- The agreement would establish a two-tier licensing structure that would allow for an extensive range of producers by separating processors and growers from owning licensing stores.
- It would establish a social and economic equity plan to assist individuals impacted by cannabis enforcement. It would also create a goal to have 50% of licenses go to a minority or women-owned business enterprise, service-disabled veterans or distressed farmers.
- The legislation proposes to establish a new cannabis tax structure. The wholesale excise tax would be moved to the retail level with a 9% state excise tax, the local excise tax would be 4% of the retail price, and counties would receive 25% of the local retail tax revenue with 75% going to the municipality.[AL2]
- The agreement would also permit the sale of hemp flower and smokable hemp forms only when adult-use stores are operating.
- Allow for adults 21 years and older to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate outside of their home.
- Permit individuals 21 years and older to grow three mature and three immature plants for personal use.
Local governments are permitted to opt-out of retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licensing by Dec. 31, 2021, or nine months after the date the legislation is effective, the release states.
« I am very proud that we finally have a three-way agreed bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in a way that foregrounds racial justice, while balancing safety with economic growth, encouraging new small businesses, and significantly diminishing the illegal market, » said Sen. Liz Krueger, the primary sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate Finance Committee. « My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities. I believe we have achieved that in this bill, as well as addressing the concerns and input of stakeholders across the board. When this bill becomes law, New York will be poised to implement a nation-leading model for what marijuana legalization can look like. »
Lawmakers could vote on the legislation as early as Tuesday. If passed, it would take effect immediately; however, adult-use sales could take up to two years to begin, as reported by the Associated Press.
According to a March 27 press release from Krueger, here are what various stakeholders in New York’s adult-use legalization landscape had to say:
Melissa Moore, New York State Director, Drug Policy Alliance, said: “At long last, marijuana reform is finally almost a reality in New York state. Through the tireless work of people impacted by prohibition, advocates and champion lawmakers, like Sen. Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, New York is on the precipice of ushering in a new era of marijuana justice. Advancing legalization in NY also puts another nail in the coffin of the war on drugs that has devastated so many communities across the state. By comprehensively addressing the harms of past criminalization, this legislation will create one of the most ambitious marijuana legalization programs in the country. It is setting a national model for reform with community reinvestment, equity, and justice front and center. We will continue to work with lawmakers to ensure the best possible outcome for all New Yorkers and look forward to the legislature swiftly passing the bill and the governor’s signature on these historic reforms. »
L. Joy Williams, President of Brooklyn NAACP and Legislative Director for New York State NAACP, said: “This is a victory for the many Black and Brown New Yorkers who were targeted due to the racist and predatory nature of the war on drugs. We commend Sen. Liz Krueger, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and the many community leaders, advocates and organizations across the state who stood our ground to ensure that any legalization efforts center the people of African descent that were most harmed and that the communities in which they live would enjoy their equitable share in a legal market. The passage of this legislation sets a standard across the country that as we seek to dismantle the many structures of criminalization, racism and inequity in our society, that we must do so by centering the people and the communities most harmed.”
Michael Sisitzky, Senior Policy Counsel at NYCLU, said: “New Yorkers have spoken in the streets and at the polls: they demanded that lawmakers dismantle systemic racism, and that begins with how we legalize marijuana. At long last, the legislation announced today will ensure a diverse and inclusive legal marijuana industry and reinvest in the communities of color that have been devastated by the war on drugs, mass incarceration and a legacy of disproportionate arrests for drug possession. The time is now for lawmakers in Albany to repair the damage to Black and Brown New Yorkers whose lives have been needlessly destroyed by racist drug policies across our state for far too long. We expect the legislature to pass this overdue legislation and for Gov. Cuomo to step up, stop the harm and sign it into law without delay.”
Marvin Mayfield, Lead Organizer at Center for Community Alternatives, said: “Finally, we are on the verge of ending a cruel chapter in New York’s racist and devastating war on drugs. Marijuana criminalization has wrought decades of harm on our families and communities. We are proud of the thousands of impacted New Yorkers who have fought for a true end to criminalization, community reinvestment and equity and we applaud the legislators who stood beside us. Now, we call for swift passage by the legislature and a signature by the governor to make this national model a reality.”
Alice Fontier, Managing Director of Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, said: “Today’s victory is a massive step towards ensuring that marijuana legalization in New York reckons with the hideous, racist legacy of criminalization. Since NDS began our work in Harlem 30 years ago, the neighbors we serve have been persecuted under marijuana criminalization for little more than the color of their skin and the amount of money in their bank accounts. Police, prosecutors, child services and ICE have used criminalization as a weapon against them, and the impact this bill will have on the lives of our over-surveilled clients cannot be overstated. We are grateful to the advocates, legislators and impacted people who insisted that legalization reckon with the damage wrought by the war on drugs and ongoing criminalization. We join our neighbors in celebrating this massive step towards racial and economic justice.”