Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday morning signed a law passed by state lawmakers the day before to legalize recreational marijuana in New York state.
The state Senate on Tuesday night voted 40-23 to pass the legislation. Later that night, the State Assembly voted 100-49 in favor of the bill.
This makes the Empire State the 15th state, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize recreational cannabis.
“This is a historic day. I thank the leader and the president and the tireless advocacy of so many people,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter after signing the legislation.
He said in a statement Tuesday evening after the bill was passed. “For too long the cannabis ban has disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work this landmark legislation does justice to communities long marginalized, embraces a new industry that will grow economy and establish substantial security guards. for the public. “
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he supports the legislation on the basis of racial equity. “I think this bill goes a long way. I think there is more to do after, but it goes a long way,” said de Blasio, according to WDTV ABC 11.
Black and Latino New Yorkers reunite composed of 94% of marijuana-related arrests by the New York Police Department in 2020, even though city statistics show that the proportion of white New Yorkers using marijuana is significantly higher than that of Latino or black residents. According to a survey by the New York City Department of Health, 24% of white residents reported using marijuana, compared to 14% of black residents and 12% of Latino residents, over the two-year period 2015-2016, the most recent data available.
Decision to legalize weed comes after neighboring New Jersey recently legalized the plant. The goal of lawmakers was to pass the bill as part of the state budget before the April 1 deadline.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. Senators debated for three hours, with Republicans saying the bill is dangerous and does not represent the wishes of all New Yorkers.
“We have had interminable meetings with everyone who asked us to do so,” Krueger said in response during the proceedings. “Frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever met such a diverse group of people as I have in the seven years my chief of staff and I have worked on this bill.
Legalization is ultimately expected to bring billions of dollars in revenue to the state and New York in particular, with a hefty 13% tax, which includes a 9% state tax and a 4% local tax. The measure also includes a potency tax of up to 3 cents per milligram of THC, the natural psychoactive component in cannabis that provides the plant’s high.
An estimate from Cuomo’s office predicts that annual tax revenues from legal weed sales could bring in $ 350 million per year and 60,000 jobs to the state when the industry is fully established.
The measure allows the possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate and allows the growth of up to six plants at home.
The legislation also creates equity programs to provide loans and grants to people, including small farmers who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
“My goal in passing this legislation has always been to end the enforcement of the racially disparate marijuana ban that has wreaked havoc on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair these same communities, ” Krueger said in a press release.
“I have seen such injustice happen, and for the young people whose lives have been destroyed for doing something I did as a child,” Krueger said, while recording his vote for the measure. “No one put a gun to my temple and no one tried to put me in jail, because I was that nice white girl.”
Some officials are even calling for the bill to fund universal basic income and homeownership programs for communities hardest hit by the war on drugs.
“With the legalization of marijuana on the horizon, we have the ability to enact legislation locally to make the concept of reparations through UBI and home ownership a reality for Rochester and her families.” , said Rochester, New York, Mayor Lovely Warren, according to Rochesterfirst.com.
The bill will erase the criminal records of tens of thousands of people, has a goal 40% reinvestment of income in communities of color, and will grant 50% of adult user licenses to social equity claimants and small businesses.
The bill will also establish “a well-regulated industry to ensure that consumers know exactly what they are getting when they buy cannabis.”
The measure will create an Office of Cannabis Management, which will be an independent agency operating with the New York State Liquor Authority. The agency will be responsible for regulating the recreational cannabis market and existing medical cannabis programs. The agency will also be overseen by a Cannabis Control Board made up of five members – three appointed by the governor and one each appointed by the Senate and the State Assembly.
Police groups and the New York Parent-Teacher Association have openly expressed concerns about the bill.
“An absolute travesty. All research submitted shows it will be harmful to children, make roads less safe,” said Kyle Belokopitsky, executive director of the New York State PTA, ABC 7 New York reported. “And I have absolutely no idea what the legislature thinks that it wants to move this forward right now.”
New York authorities are launching an education and prevention campaign to reduce the risk of cannabis use among school-aged children, and schools will be eligible for drug prevention and awareness programs. The state will also launch a study that examines the effect of cannabis on driving.
The bill will allow localities to pass laws banning cannabis dispensaries and user licenses, with a nine-month deadline after legalization.
The factory’s legalization takes effect immediately, but legal sales for recreational purposes are not expected to begin for a year or two.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the measure allows possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate.
– CNBC’s Lynne Pate contributed to this report.