Legislation Passes In New York To Legalize Marijuana
After numerous failed attempts over the years, and after some debate within the state’s legislature, a bill has now been passed in New York that will see the legalization of recreational marijuana. This bill contains a lot of information about the near future in regards to the marijuana industry. However, it also could raise a few questions. Let’s just dive right in and see what is included in this piece of legislation.
The bill had a relatively easy journey through the state’s legislature. It passed the Senate with a vote of 40–23, and then passed the Assembly with a vote of 100–49. There are two notable things about these votes. Firstly, all of the Republicans in both chambers of the legislature voted against the bill. Secondly, there was very minimal rejection from Democratic members, with only 3 voting no in the Senate and 6 voting no in the Assembly. The bill was then sent to governor Cuomo, who signed it on Wednesday.
Now, as far as the drug is concerned, there are limitations on how much one can possess or grow. The limit for how much someone can have on them is three ounces. In regards to growing marijuana plants, you can have three mature plants and three immature plants, with a limit of 12 plants per household. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you must be 21 to legally possess or grow marijuana. If you fail to meet any of these qualifications, you can still be charged with drug crimes. Additionally, selling marijuana without a license will also lead to you being charged.
The bill also goes into the details regarding the location of use and sale of marijuana. When it comes to where it is sold, store-front dispensaries will be set up, however, if a business does not agree with this, they can opt out of this by banning the dispensaries from their property. They can also ban the use of marijuana at their location, just like they would restrict the consumption of alcohol or the smoking of cigarettes. Despite all this, there will be other locations set up specifically meant for the sale and on-sight use of marijuana.
There will be a base tax of 14% put onto marijuana when it does come time for sales to begin. From this 14%, 9% will go to the state, 4% will go to the town, city or village where the sale is made, and 1% will go to the county. The 9% that goes to the state will then be allocated to three different channels, with 40% going to communities disproportionately affected by previous drug laws, another 40% will go to schools, and the remaining 20% will go to drug treatment and education. There will also be additional taxes based on THC content. All in all, experts are estimating that the sale of marijuana will generate about $350 million in annual tax revenue. It is also estimated that about 60,000 new jobs will be created to support this project.
One big question that might enter peoples’ minds would be; how is all of this going to be managed and well-regulated. The answer to that also lies within this piece of legislation, as it will see the creation of the Office of Cannabis Management. This new office will be led by a five member board, with three of those members being appointed by the governor and the other two being appointed by each chamber of the legislature. They will not only regulate the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana, but medical marijuana as well, which was legalized back in 2014.
The bill does not stop there, though. One other major thing to note is that thanks to this bill, those that have been convicted of drug crimes that would be seen as legal actions under the new bill will have their records expunged of those crimes. It must be made very clear that charges that exceed the bill’s limits, such as being convicted of possessing more than 3 ounces of marijuana for example, will still stand. Getting this part of the bill passed was especially seen as a victory for supporters of the legislation, as it will help to wipe away the marks on the records of those deemed unfairly convicted.
A few concerns were raised during debate over the bill. One major problem that came up was road safety. Those who didn’t support the bill said that there were no regulations stated in its wording for such things. However, officials have said that research will be starting in order to put such safety measures into place. One of the main methods being looked at is a saliva test, which would work similarly to a breathalyzer test. The other major concern was that there has not been enough research done in regards to the negative effects on a person’s physical and mental health after extended use of marijuana. Despite these concerns, the bill still managed to pass at the end of the day.
With this bill being signed into law, New York State has become the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The first two states to legalize it were Colorado and Washington. California is another notable state who has legalized the use of recreational marijuana. It has also been legalized by multiple of New York’s neighboring states, including New Jersey, Vermont and Massachusetts. Despite the bill being signed, possession, use, and the sale of the drug likely will not be legal until 2022, since all of the management systems and regulations still have to be fully worked out and put into place.