New York is poised to become the 16th state in the U.S. to allow regulated marijuana sales as state lawmakers approved legislation legalizing adult-use marijuana. The bill, passed by both the Democratic-led Senate and Assembly, removes cannabis from the list of controlled substances and will eventually legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana for adults over 21. The Senate approved the measure by a 40-23 vote and it later passed the Assembly 100-49 with only a handful of Democrats defecting.
“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,” said sponsor Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan).
State officials estimate the program, which will take about two years to fully implement, can raise $350 million in annual tax revenues. Legal marijuana could eventually become a $4 billion industry in the Empire State. Under the bill, New York would set a 9% sales tax on cannabis, plus an additional 4% tax split between the county and local government. Local governments can opt-out of having dispensaries or “consumption sites.”
It also establishes an “Office of Cannabis Management” to oversee the production and sales of pot. The office will be charged with ensuring half of pot-selling, growing, and delivery licenses to minority- and women-owned businesses. Five board members, appointed by both the state legislature and the governor, will oversee the new office. The measure also expands the state’s existing medical marijuana program and allows New Yorkers to grow their own pot plants at home.
“The results will be transformative for people across New York State — it will create economic and research opportunities, jobs across a wide variety of sectors, and a safe and reliable product,” said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo).