Something that many people have been waiting for years has finally happened this week.
The state of New York has become the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. It will also be expunging the criminal records of people who had been previously convicted of crimes which would now be considered legal.
On Wednesday Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation, only about 12 hours after the Legislature approved it.
“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 stated.
New York’s legislation could create up to 60,000 jobs and generate as much as $350 million in annual tax revenue for the state.
As part of the legislation, a sales tax rate of 14% will include 9% allocated for the state, 3% for the municipality where the sale is made and 1% for the county. From that 9%, 40% has been earmarked for communities disproportionately affected by prior drug laws, 40% for schools and 20% for drug treatment and education.
New Yorkers will now be allowed to possess 3 ounces of marijuana and grow up to three mature pot plants at home. There is a limit of six per household.
Anyone previously convicted of possessing an amount of marijuana that is under this new legal limit automatically will be subject to expungement and re-sentencing.
“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,” said state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
“My colleagues and I knew it was important to do this the right way — in a way that would include those targeted and frequently excluded from the process,” state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie remarked.
Sales might not start until 2022 however because it will take New York time to establish its regulatory framework said legislative sources to ABC News.
“We expect 2021 to be a record-breaking year for legislatures legalizing cannabis,” said Steve Hawkins, the executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project. “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.”