New York state lawmakers on Saturday night put the finishing touches on a deal to legalize cannabis products for those 21 and older while allowing adults to maintain up to three mature marijuana plants in their home per person.
The Saturday night agreement with a revised marijuana bill came after lawmakers had reached a tentative deal earlier in the week, cementing months of negotiations over the measure. The state Legislature is expected to pass the bill in the coming days.
The measure is expected to generate millions of dollars in revenue for New York and boost programs for communities affected by severe drug laws of the past. The measure was agreed to over the objections of law enforcement organizations as well as the New York State PTA, which had raised objections over traffic safety and the potential for children to gain access.
"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. Liz Krueger, the Senate sponsor of the measure.
"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. When this bill becomes law, New York will be poised to implement a nation-leading model for what marijuana legalization can look like."
The measure includes:
- 40% of the revenue dedicated for communities impacted by prior drug laws, 40% to schools and public education and 20% to drug treatment and prevention programs.
- Half of the licenses will be dedicated to equity applicants.
- Ends penalties for the possession of less than 3 ounces of cannabis
- Creates an office of cannabis management.
- Allows New Yorkers to maintain three mature plants and three immature plants per adult for both medicinal patients and in the adult use program, with a limit of six mature and six immature plants per household.
The bill's approval will make New York the latest state in the nation to allow adult-use marijuana and opening up one of the largest markets. It's estimated New York alone will have a multi-billion cannabis market in the coming years.
"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 Assembly Majority Leader Crystal 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. I am honored to sponsor this legislation and excited to see the positive impact it will have for so many New Yorkers.”