New York Governor Legalizes Marijuana

Published April 1st, 2021 - 06:35 GMT
Cuomo signed a bill that legalizes marijuana
(Shutterstock/ File Photo)
Cuomo signed a bill that legalizes marijuana in New York State on Wednesday after a 100-49 State Assembly vote on Tuesday night

Embattled New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that legalizes marijuana in the Empire state - making New York the 16th State in the country to legalize sales to adults. 

The bill reached Cuomo's desk Tuesday night after State Assembly voted 100-49 to pass the marijuana legalization bill.

Under the bill, signed on Wednesday by Cuomo, New Yorkers aged 21 and over can now legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana outside of the home and purchase cannabis from authorized retailers.

Anyone previously convicted of possessing marijuana under the new legal limit will automatically be eligible to resentencing. The bill will also lead to reduced penalties for possession and sale.

'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. 

Adults can now legally have up to five pounds of marijuana in their home as well as  grow up to three mature cannabis plants in their home, the bill said. 

The bill has a strong economic incentive - the new industry could result in $350 million in tax revenue, and up to 60,000 new jobs in the state, the governor's office said. 

Marijuana will have a 13% sales tax, with 9% of the revenue going to the state and 4% going to localities, the bill said.  

Sales of recreational-use marijuana won't become legal for an estimated 18 months pending state regulations. 

The legislation will also expand the list of medical conditions for eligibility to medical marijuana 

On twitter, reactions to the news was mixed. Some new York residents praised the bill, while others though it was still too restrictive. 

'Its official! About damn time! After years of stalled attempts, New York State has legalized the use of recreational marijuana, enacting a robust program to reinvent millions of dollars in minority communities ravaged by the decades-long war on drugs.' one person tweeted. 

Some were not as impressed, tweeting that there should not be a limit on how much marijuana a resident can grow in their homes. 

 'I believe if New York State is going to make marijuana legal then people should be able to grow it for personal use without permission from the government. Its your land, I wont tell you how many tomatoes you can grow, I wont tell you how much marijuana you can grow.' one person tweeted. 

Others called the bill 'justice' for people previously convicted on possession charges

 'Not only did New York state legalize marijuana, but they expunged the records of all those indict don flimsy, nonsensical possession charges. This is justice. How many other states to follow before we get national policy' one person tweeted.

Cuomo announced the signing of the landmark bill on social media, tweeting '#BREAKING: I just signed legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis. The bill creates automatic expungement of previous marijuana convictions that would now be legal. This is a historic day. I thank the Leader and Speaker and the tireless advocacy of so many.'

Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio said the bill long overdue, tweeting 'This is about righting a wrong. This is about turning the page on a racist law that unfairly targerted Black and brown communities for decades. Healing begins now in our state.' 

New York City health officials are also praising the move. 

During de Blasio's daily press briefing on Wednesday, Jay Varma, the NYC Mayor's Office Senior Adviser for Public Health, said that while doctors are still learning more about the long term effects of marijuana use, he supports a bill that promotes the the right type of resources to support cannabis users that does not involve criminal justice.

'We know a lot of adults do use these products safely, they lead highly functional lives, they lead to no severe health outcomes and we need to have a society that doesn't criminalize that type of action and provides support for people who end up having problems with it,' he said. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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