State lawmakers are looking to make significant changes to the state’s recreational marijuana law.

NY1 has confirmed that talks are underway between the legislature and the govenor’s office on just what those changes should look like.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act passed the legislature and was signed into law in 2021. But since then, there have been setbacks to getting legal cannabis sales up and running.

What You Need To Know

  • Lawmakers are in talks with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office on how to make significant structural changes to the state’s marijuana law

  • Changes being looked at include modifying the tax structure and enhancing the state’s ability to shutdown illegal shops

  • New York’s law is also the subject of two lawsuits at the state and federal level for its preferential treatment of who can obtain licenses to sell the product

Now talks are underway to change the law and make it easier to sell legal pot.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as an overhaul. But I would characterize it as some necessary tweaking,” said Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Crystal People’s-Stokes, a Buffalo Democrat. “For one thing, we’ve never done this before in this state. And we are doing it differently in order to focus on New Yorkers first. So, there are a lot of things that need to be tweaked.”

For starters, lawmakers want to pass legislation that would step up enforcement, giving the state the authority to shut down illegal shops that have become a real nuisance in New York City and elsewhere throughout the state. Illegal stores undercut legally sanctioned dispensaries.

“It would put real teeth in the amount of fines that could be levied against illegal cannabis shops,” said state Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat. “We are very focused on trying to close these thousands of illegal businesses throughout the state of New York.”

The changes being discussed would also rewrite the tax structure. As it stands now, some believe it’s prohibitively expensive.

“Yes, it would simplify the process. For the producers, for the laboratories, and actually for the businesses,” Peoples-Stokes said. “Generally, if the producers have an additional cost, if the labs have an additional cost, they are going to pass that on to the businesses who will pass it on to the consumers. So, we are reducing the cost of the product as well as reducing the product.”

As for how the law passed with so many deficiencies, there are different theories on what happened.

“I do believe part of the problem here is we passed the law, but we had a governor named Andrew Cuomo who didn’t start the agency and get rolling,” Krueger said. “So, people were sitting there going ‘where are you? Where are you?’ And we were trying to get him to do something, and he wasn’t.”

New York also set up its law to give preferential treatment for opening legal cannabis shops to those who had previous marijuana related arrests. There are now two lawsuits challenging that both at the federal and state level.