New York Legalizes Marijuana

Joining the likes of California, Colorado, and Virginia this past Wednesday, New York has finally legalized recreational marijuana after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.

“The historic law will allow recreational marijuana sales to adults over the age of 21 and set up a licensing process for the delivery of cannabis products to customers. New Yorkers will also be allowed to grow up to three mature and three immature plants for personal use,” as reported by the HuffPost. “The bill was first passed by both the Democratic-led state Senate and Assembly on Tuesday. It will take about two years to implement the sale of recreational weed and would set a 9% sales tax on cannabis, plus an additional 4% tax split between county and local government.”

The new law is set to expunge past marijuana convictions and is expected to rake in $350 million in revenue annually to the state. Fox News states that New York will also provide “loans, grants and incubator programs to encourage participation in the cannabis industry by people from minority communities, as well as small farmers, women and disabled veterans.”

Liz Krueger, New York State Senator, has stated that she sponsored the bill as a means to end racial discrimination.

“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,” Krueger stated.

Governor Cuomo stated that the law “rights the wrongs of the past.”

“This is a historic day in New York — 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,” Cuomo said in a statement, according to  ABC News.

On Wednesday, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins stated that “this effort was years in the making and we have finally achieved what many thought was impossible, a bill that legalizes marijuana while standing up for social equity, enhancing education and protecting public safety.”

Groups advocating for Marijuana sang the praises of the new law for its aid in the fight for racial justice.

“The Assembly and the Senate modeled what democracy actually looks like when the legislature allows progressive movements to lead towards justice,” Jawanza James Williams, the director of organizing at VOCAL-NY, said in a statement.

“We expect 2021 to be a record-breaking year for legislatures legalizing cannabis,” executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project, Steve Hawkins, also said. “More than two-thirds of Americans believe it’s time to end prohibition and this move represents the latest example of elected officials joining the chorus of support for legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults.”

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