On Wednesday, March 31, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law legalizing the adult-use of cannabis in the state. New York Post reported that residents may possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis outside the home and up to 5 pounds at home.
The legislation eliminates cannabis from the list of controlled substances, enabling people aged 21 and up to use the drug openly.
The bill would broaden the number of medical conditions that qualify someone for medical marijuana. The state would also allow patients to have more nurses per patient and grow medical cannabis at home. Marijuana could be available for purchase in approved dispensaries as early as next year.
The bill also creates the Office of Cannabis Management. It further extends the state’s medical marijuana and hemp-based cannabinoid initiatives.
Anyone with a history of marijuana use will have any previous convictions removed by law.
Cuomo said in a statement that this is a watershed moment in New York, one that righted past wrongs by abolishing draconian prison sentences and embracing an industry that will boost the Empire State’s economy.
#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.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 31, 2021
Cuomo Signs Marijuana Legalization Bill Into Law https://t.co/6V2sJmCRqX
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) March 31, 2021
By passing a local law by Dec. 31, 2021, or nine months after the legislation takes effect, cities, towns, and villages can opt out of authorizing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses. But, the adult-use legalization of cannabis, on the other hand, cannot be avoided.
Two market leaders on Long Island refused to sell marijuana in their city when green shoots became legal in the Empire State.
Officials estimate that the adult-use cannabis industry will generate $350 million in annual taxes and 30,000 to 60,000 jobs throughout the state.
All cannabis taxes will go through the state’s cannabis revenue fund in New York.
During a press conference at City Hall shortly before Cuomo signed the bill into law, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the bill’s passage.
The Mayor said that the legislature made history by correcting a mistake and legalizing marijuana properly, which is a vital juncture for the state.
However, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea raised concerns about the long-term implications of recreational marijuana legalization, as well as the impact on crime. Shea said in an interview with PIX 11 on Wednesday: “I worry about what it means for New Yorkers.”
The commissioner added that it is a big change because legalization means that it would no longer be a police issue.
He clarified that when you pass new rules, you still think about the potential consequences.