Final bill introduced to legalize marijuana in New York

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This Aug. 22, 2019 photo shows medical marijuana plants being grown before flowering during a media tour of the Curaleaf medical cannabis cultivation and processing facility in Ravena, N.Y. After legislative efforts stalled and a vaping sickness stirred new concerns, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut still want to make recreational pot legal. But the states have different approaches and timeframes, and some proposals have shifted since last year. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

ALBANY, N.Y. — The final bill that could potentially legalize marijuana in the state of New York was introduced in the state legislature Saturday, State Sen. Liz Krueger announce.

The bill reflects an agreement to legalize, tax and regulate adult-use cannabis. It’s an amended version of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. You can read the entirety of the bill — expected to be voted on next week — here.

“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. Krueger. “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.”

The new law would also allow limited home grow of “three mature and three immature plants per adult for both medical patients and in the adult use program, with a maximum of six mature and six immature plants per household.”

In a statement, Allan Gandelman, President of New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association Regarding Legislation to Legalize Cannabis, said this historic moment will bring new economic opportunity for the state.

“This is a historic moment for the state of New York, and one that will bring with it good jobs, investment, and cutting-edge entrepreneurial opportunity through the creation of an entirely new sustainable and equitable industry. Cannabis legalization will jumpstart our state’s economic recovery and serve as a real investment in a forward-looking culture that puts New York cannabis consumers, small business owners, farmers and cultivators first. We’re grateful to Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, Senator Krueger, and Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes’ for their leadership in negotiating and finalizing this critical legislation ending prohibition and opening the doors to cannabis legalization in New York. We look forward to the prompt passage of this legislation that will ensure that our state’s craft farmers and cultivators remain central to the economic development, revenues, and prosperity generated by this budding industry.”

Allan Gandelman, President of New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association Regarding Legislation to Legalize Cannabis

The bill is fronted by Sen. Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, as well as countless advocates for legalization.

“I am thrilled to announce that there is three-way agreement to pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. The final bill provides long awaited marijuana justice for New Yorkers, and makes significant steps and investments to begin to address the generational devastation caused by marijuana prohibition and mass incarceration,” said Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes. “Cannabis legalization in New York will be centered on equity, investment into communities, economic opportunities for historically disenfranchised people, research, education, and public safety.”

There will be several provisions in the bill to repair the discriminatory impact the decade-long war on drugs has had on communities of color, according to Sen. Krueger.

The bill establishes an Office of Cannabis Management with a board comprised of three members. Three of those members would be appointed by Gov. Cuomo, one each by the assembly and state senate. Cuomo would also appoint an executive director to the office.

There would also be a Cannabis Advisory board. The board will approve grants as well as make policy recommendations.

The legalization of recreational use also hopes to expand medical uses and patient access to marijuana. The sales tax on cannabis will be 9%, while an additional 4% will be taxed to the county and municipalities. Municipalities are allowed to opt out of retail sales at the local level.

The law also provides funding for training drug recognition officers and expands traffic safety protections, including the development of roadside testing technology.

New York would become the 16th state in the union to legalize recreational marijuana. New Jersey voted to legalize during the November election.

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