New York Lawmakers Reach Deal to Legalize Marijuana

New York Lawmakers Reach Deal to Legalize Marijuana

After years of false starts, New York state lawmakers said Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use by adults starting next year.

State Sen. Liz Krueger said lawmakers were finalizing a bill that would create a new state regulator for cannabis products and decriminalize the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana. New Yorkers will be allowed to cultivate marijuana for personal use and the state will study a new system for determining whether drivers are inebriated because of marijuana use, she said.

The bill is set to be taken up next week by the state Assembly and Senate, lawmakers said, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, hasproposed legalizing marijuanain the state budget that is due by next week. He put marijuana legalization into his budget proposals in 2019 and 2020, but it was taken out after disagreements with Democrats who dominate the state Assembly and Senate.

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During an unrelated briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Cuomo said, “We’re close, but we’ve been close three times before.” Spokesmen for the governor didn’t immediately respond to specific questions about the bill.Ms. Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan who sponsors the measure, said the final legislation has evolved after input from industry stakeholders around the country.

The emerging agreement would create the state Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board to oversee the entire cannabis industry, including recreational marijuana, medical marijuana and the emerging hemp and CBD fields.

Among other provisions, the deal under negotiation would:

  • Create a number of new state licenses for cannabis, including separate licenses for cannabis farmers, distributors, product makers, dispensaries, and retail locations where people would be able to consume cannabis products on site.
  • Cities, towns and villages would be given until the end of the year to opt out of having dispensaries or consumption sites within their borders.
  • Anyone over the age of 21 would be allowed to grow up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants at their home, up to a maximum of 12 total plants per household. Card-carrying medical marijuana users would be able to begin growing within six months of the bill taking effect; Recreational users would have to wait until 18 months after the first dispensary opens.
  • Cannabis would be taxed both at the distributor and retail level, with distributors paying a per-milligram tax on flowers, concentrate and edibles, while retail sales would have a state tax of 9% and a local tax of 4%.
  • 40% of the state revenue would be set aside for a new fund, which would be flagged for supporting social and economic equity programs. Another 40% would go into the state education fund, while the remaining 20% would go toward drug education programs.

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