After weeks of negotiations between members of the New York State Senate, New York State Assembly, and members of the governor’s office, legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in the Empire State has emerged that is extremely likely to pass. Legislators believe they have the votes to pass the bill in the Senate and the Assembly, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated that he will sign the legislation when it reaches his desk, possibly as early as this week.
The new bill is an amended version of legislation that has been proposed in the past by State Senator Liz Kreuger (D) and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D) known as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. Until recently, the Cuomo administration had hoped to advance their own legalization plan through his annual proposed budget, but the governor’s power to set the agenda has been severely reduced by multiple scandals that have left him significantly weaker. Consequently, the piece of legislation under consideration is a standalone bill.
The bill would allow adults 21 years of age and older to purchase and possess marijuana from licensed retailers. Consumption sites and delivery services will also be legalized. The bill sets possession limits at 3 ounces of flower cannabis or 24 grams of concentrate. Individuals would be allowed to store 5 pounds of cannabis at home. New York would also allow individuals to cultivate up to 6 plants per person on their property, but only 3 plants can be mature at one time. A household will be able to grow up to 12 plants. Rules for home cultivation will be written following the passage of the bill. Consequently, home cultivation will continue to be prohibited until those rules and regulations have been drafted and approved.
The bill expands the current medical program to allow more qualifying conditions and the sale of smokable flower. Additionally, patients will be able to obtain a 60-day supply rather than a 30-day supply of cannabis. Current medicinal retailers will have the option of participating in the adult-use program in exchange for licensing fees.
The bill will create an Office of Cannabis Management to regulate the adult-use cannabis market and the medical market, and to oversee the distribution of licenses, at least 50% of which will go to social equity applicants. Vertical integration will be prohibited except for microbusinesses. Tax revenue from the sales of cannabis will first pay for the program. Of the remaining funds, 40% will go to community reinvestment, 40% will go to state public schools, and 20% will fund drug treatment facilities and educational programs. Finally, the bill automatically expunges the records of those convicted of crimes involving cannabis that will longer be prohibited (i.e. possession of less than 3 oz).
Marijuana Moment has more.