This just in: New York will be the 15th state to legalize weed. Starting next year, the recreational sale of marijuana for adults was legalized as of today after years of beating around the bush. New Yorkers will additionally be allowed to cultivate marijuana for personal use and medical marijuana companies can begin selling whole lower instead of cannabis extracts. With the state budget being due next week, Cuomo’s proposal to legalize marijuana will finally be taken up by the state Assembly and Senate, after being passed on two years in row in 2019 and 2020.
State Senator Liz Kreuger says, “I think that will give us a head start on a good program, because we were able to watch what other states went through and hopefully come up with something that addresses the problems,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.
Legislators have discussed the creation of a new state Office of Cannabis Management that will be responsible for the issuance of licenses for growing marijuana as well as its sale for recreational use by retail stores or delivery services. Similar to California, local counties in the state will be able to permit businesses that sell marijuana for on-premises consumption, subject to some restrictions.
Beyond the general sluggish pace of bureaucratic processes, another sticking point of pushing the cannabis legislation through had to do with the distribution of revenue from sales tax, which is estimated to be around $300 million a year. Under the legislation, the state would levy a 9% tax on retail sales and localities would levy an additional 4%. Towns, villages and cities may opt out of retail and delivery marijuana sales, according to the proposal. Revenue will go towards funding the Office of Cannabis Management and law-enforcement officers (to detect impaired driving). The remaining 20% of revenue will be dedicated to treatment and public education, 40% will be dedicated to school aid and 40% will be placed into a social equity fund.
Author: Olivia Hartman (Dark Matters)