New York Legalizes Marijuana

On March 31st, Andrew Cuomo signed a cannabis bill that made New York the fifteenth state to officially legalize the use of recreational marijuana. NY’s legalization also comes with an extensive plan to put forty percent of tax revenue from marijuana sales towards minority communities that have historically been targeted by the war on drugs and overcriminalization of marijuana. Additionally, individuals who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses will have the offense permanently taken off their records. One of the primary goals of the new marijuana law is to allow individuals with past marijuana-related convictions to participate in the new, legal market for cannabis within New York state. 

Many parts of the bill have gone into effect immediately. Now, New Yorkers can possess up to three ounces of cannabis. Additionally, people can now use marijuana in public settings where tobacco smoking is permitted. Some of the more nuanced aspects of this bill will go into effect in the coming months. Officials are still working on the regulatory framework that will control the new market for cannabis in New York. Marijuana dispensaries, like the ones that already exist in California and Massachusetts, will likely not be ready to open for another year. New York policymakers are predicting that the legalization of marijuana will create new businesses and thousands of jobs within the state. Additionally, the new laws will help expand access to medical marijuana, making it more accessible to patients in need. The state’s new cannabis market will be overseen by the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management. Both of these entities are brand new to New York’s government and will help to create and implement necessary regulations. 

Overall, the legalization of marijuana in New York is a step in the right direction. The law helps to acknowledge and address the excessive criminalization of cannabis within minority communities and will likely boost the state’s economy through new jobs and increased revenue.