NY legalizes adult-use marijuana sales

New York state passes bill legalizing recreational marijuana

New York's legalization of recreational marijuana could generate $5 billion in sales for the first year and raises pressure on other states to follow the 16 that have now approved the plant for everyday use, the head of one of the country's biggest producers said on Wednesday.

Assembly Democratic majoritiy leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, who sponsored the bill, said, "Unlike any other state in America, this legislation is intentional about equity". "That's what's good about this legislation".

Cuomo's office has said the change could net an additional $350 million in annual tax revenues and create tens of thousands of jobs.

"I'm driving this because I want people to be free from incarceration for a drug that people in their communities use every day", Stokes said.

New York State lawmakers have given the green light for legalized marijuana possession and paved the way to allow for marijuana sales to people over the age of 21.

Observers say New York's move, which follows legalization in neighboring MA and New Jersey, builds momentum for legalization efforts nationwide. She has been a longtime proponent of legalizing recreational marijuana and says she looks forward to the bill passing.

"This is a historic day in NY - one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State's economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits", the governor said in a statement.

NY will set a 9% sales tax on cannabis plus an additional 4% county and local tax and another tax based on the level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. It would also impose an additional tax based on the level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, ranging from 0.5 cents per milligram for flower to 3 cents per milligram for edibles.

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The new law decriminalizes possession of up to three ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and 24 grams of concentrate, such as oils, and up to five pounds of marijuana at their personal residence.

Anyone previously convicted of possessing an amount of marijuana now under the legal limit will automatically be subject to expungement and resentencing. And police could no longer use the odor of cannabis as a reason for searching someone's auto for contraband.

"We applaud the New York Legislature and the tireless work of advocates for their commitment to ending cannabis prohibition through a social justice-centered approach", said Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project.

Sales might not start until 2022, as the state will take time to establish its regulatory framework, legislative sources told ABC News.

"New York will lead the nation in legalizing adult-use marijuana in a way that is responsive to the massive problems generated by criminalization", David R. Jones, President, and CEO of the Community Service Society said. Medical marijuana patients could start growing sooner: six months after the bill passes. Voters moved to legalize recreational and medical use of marijuana in South Dakota in November, though it is now being challenged in the state's Supreme Court.

It has taken years for the state's lawmakers to come to a consensus on how to legalize recreational marijuana amid debates over impaired driving, where to direct revenues and whether legalization would make it easier for children to access marijuana.

Local governments could opt-out of retail sales.

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