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New York officials reach agreement to legalize marijuana

By Bernadette Hogan, Carl Campanile and Bruce Golding

Weed all about it!

New York state lawmakers struck a deal Wednesday to legalize marijuana, legislative sources said — just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the move  “essential” to the state’s social and economic well-being.

The reform measures will be included in the laws that are set to be proposed as part of the state budget due on April 1, the sources said.

The deal would allow New Yorkers over the age of 21 to legally buy and possess up to 3 ounces of pot for their personal use, with sales by licensed dispensaries to begin as early as December 2022, sources said.

Recreational stoners could even cultivate up to six plants each, or a dozen per household, but a big bummer in the agreement would make them wait to start growing their own until 18 months after the first dispensary opens, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle said.

Plans call for a 9 percent state tax on retail sales that could generate $300 million a year in new revenues, state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) told The Post.

Cities, towns and villages that don’t opt out of allowing local sales or deliveries could also tack on another 4 percent tax.

The deal includes the creation of a new state regulatory agency, the Office of Cannabis Management, to license growers, retail sales, delivery and on-premises consumption, Krueger said.

Still-unresolved issues include how the tax money would be distributed beyond funding the new agency, with plans calling for 40 percent dedicated to school aid, 40 percent to social equity grants and the remaining 20 to treatment and public education.

In addition, Cuomo wanted the agency under his control but the plan calls for it to answer to a five-member board with three gubernatorial appointees and one each selected by the state Senate and Assembly, Krueger said.

During a news conference earlier Thursday, Cuomo said he was making marijuana legalization a top priority in budget negotiations with lawmakers.

“This year we have to get it done, and getting it done by the time the budget is passed is essential,” he said.

“Cannabis is not just social equity, it’s also revenue for the state.”

Cuomo bluntly admitted that weed should have been legalized “years ago” and — in an extraordinary acknowledgment — blamed himself for the state’s official prohibition of pot.

“We’ve been trying to legalize cannabis for three years. I’ve failed every year,” he said.

“We’re close. Close three times before. If we were playing horseshoes, we would be in good shape. But this is not horseshoes. You either get it done and sign a bill, or you don’t.”

Article source NYPost

New York legalizes recreational marijuana, expunges former pot convictions

“I look forward to signing this legislation into law,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

By Ivan Pereira

Shortly after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night, the New York State Assembly voted 100-49 to pass the marijuana legalization bill.

“Tonight, the New York State Legislature took the first step in a major leap forward for the Empire State by passing legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis,” he said in a statement. “For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public.”

“New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy,” he added. “I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”

Under the final legislation, 3 ounces of marijuana will be legal to possess for New Yorkers over 21 and the substance will have a 13% sales tax. The tax revenues will be broken up with 9% going to the state and 4% going to localities, according to the legislation.

Jawanza James Williams, the director of organizing at VOCAL-NY, said in a statement Tuesday night, “Today, the Assembly and the Senate modeled what democracy actually looks like when the legislature allows progressive movements to lead towards justice. Our movement did not fight simply for legalization’s sake, but worked for years to craft legislation rooted in racial and economic justice, in an effort to repair harms while also setting a new standard for anti-racist, class-conscious, and gender-expansive policymaking.”

“This is a massive success for all New Yorkers, especially the Black and brown survivors of racist prohibition,” Williams added.

PHOTO: A legally grown marijuana plant is pictured at farm in Oregon in this undated stock image.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty ImagesSTOCK PHOTO/Getty ImagesA legally grown marijuana plant is pictured at farm in Oregon in this undated stock image.

The governor’s office said as many as 60,000 new jobs could be created and the state will generate $350 million in revenue annually, as a result of the new laws.

Residents will also be allowed to grow marijuana at home, with a limit of three mature plants for adults over 21 and six mature plants per household.

Anyone previously convicted of possessing an amount of marijuana now under the legal limit will automatically be subject to expungement and resentencing.

“We applaud the New York Legislature and the tireless work of advocates for their commitment to ending cannabis prohibition through a social justice-centered approach,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project. “We expect 2021 to be a record-breaking year for legislatures legalizing cannabis. More than two-thirds of Americans believe it’s time to end prohibition and this move represents the latest example of elected officials joining the chorus of support for legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults.”

Once the bill is signed, New York will be the 15th state to allow for recreational marijuana among adults. Voters chose to legalize marijuana in South Dakota last year, but the amendment is currently tied up in court.

The legislation will create the Office of Cannabis Management, which will regulate the sale and distribution of both recreational and medical marijuana, which was legalized in 2014.

A five-member board will lead the office with three members appointed by the governor and one appointed by each house of the legislature, according to the legislation.

Sales might not start until 2022, as the state will take time to establish its regulatory framework, legislative sources told ABC News.

“The legalization of marijuana is a racial and criminal justice imperative, and today’s vote is a critical step towards a fairer and more just system,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “For too long, people of color have been disproportionately impacted by an outdated and shortsighted marijuana prohibition, and it’s past time we right this wrong. We must also engineer an economy that will provide a much-needed boost to communities devastated by the war on drugs and COVID-19, and I am hopeful this will help to achieve that for New Yorkers.”

Article source ABC News

Recreational marijuana will be legal in New York after lawmakers pass bill. Cuomo says he’ll sign it

By Anna Sturla, Hollie Silverman and Laura Ly, CNN

(CNN) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he plans to sign a bill that would allow recreational marijuana use after the state Senate and Assembly voted to approve the legislation.

Senate Bill S854A passed the Senate, with 40 voting in favor and 23 against. It then went to the Assembly, where it was approved with 100 votes in favor and 49 votes against during a late-night session.

Cuomo released a statement late Tuesday on Twitter saying he intends to sign the bill when it hits his desk.

“For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a news industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public,” the governor said.

He also thanked the legislators who “worked tirelessly on this issue for securing passage of this historic legislation.”
State Senator Liz Krueger, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, spoke passionately Tuesday evening about the racial inequities of drug enforcement, and the “injustice” of marijuana prohibition “for young people, whose lives were being destroyed, for doing something I did when I was a kid.”

In a press release ahead of the bill’s anticipated passing, the bill’s Assembly sponsor Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said she was “proud” to see the bill pass after so many years of effort.

“We are providing marijuana justice by ensuring investment into the lives and communities of those who suffered for generations as a result of mass incarceration,” Peoples-Stokes said.

Financial impact

Cuomo’s office previously said the development of an adult-use cannabis industry in New York has the potential to create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs and the ability to earn $350 million annually in tax collections. The New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act would add a 13% tax to retail sales for state and local tax revenue, a release from earlier this week said.

The taxes would go to the New York state cannabis revenue fund, with the remainder after costs being split between education (40%), the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund (40%) and the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund (20%).

“Cities, towns, and villages may opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021 or nine months after the effective date of the legislation. They cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization,” the release said.

Article source CNN

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