the agreement to legalize the pot in New York is final
ALBANY, NY (AP) – Lawmakers reached an agreement on Saturday night to legalize sales of recreational marijuana in New York City.
At least 14 other states already allow residents to purchase marijuana for recreational and not just medical purposes, and New York’s past efforts to smuggle marijuana have failed in recent years. Democrats who now have a veto-proof majority in the state legislature have made it a priority this year, and the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has estimated that legalization could potentially pay off for the government. State approximately $ 350 million per year.
“My goal in passing this legislation has always been to end the disparate racial enforcement of the marijuana ban that has wreaked havoc on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and mend those same communities, ”said Senator Liz Krueger, sponsor of the Senate bill and chair of the Senate finance committee.
The legislation would allow the sale of recreational marijuana to adults over the age of 21 and put in place an authorization process for the delivery of cannabis products to customers. Individual New Yorkers could grow up to three mature plants and three immature plants for personal consumption, and local governments could withdraw from retail sales.
The legislation would go into effect immediately if passed, although sales did not begin immediately as New York City implements rules and a cannabis council plan. Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes estimated on Friday that it could be 18 months to two years before sales start.
Adam Goers, vice president of Columbia Care, a New York-based medical marijuana supplier looking to enter the recreational market, said the New York-proposed system “would ensure newcomers have a chance in the market” alongside existing state medical marijuana suppliers.
“There’s a big cake that a lot of different people are going to be able to be a part of,” Goers said.
New York would establish a 9% sales tax on cannabis, plus an additional 4% tax split between the county and local government. It would also impose an additional tax based on the level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, ranging from 0.5 cents per milligram for flowers to 3 cents per milligram for edibles.
New York would eliminate the penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis and automatically clear the records of those previously convicted of marijuana-related offenses who would no longer be criminalized. It’s a step beyond a 2019 law that struck out many previous convictions for possession of marijuana and reduced the penalty for possession of small amounts.
And New York would provide loans, grants and incubation programs to encourage participation in the cannabis industry by people from minority communities, as well as small farmers, women and disabled veterans.
Supporters said the move could create thousands of jobs and start tackling the racial injustice of a decades-long war on drugs that has disproportionately targeted minority and poor communities.
“Police, prosecutors, children’s services and ICE have used criminalization as a weapon against them, and the impact of this bill on the lives of our supervising clients cannot be overstated,” he said. said Alice Fontier, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem. in a statement on Saturday.
The Legal Aid Society of New York also praised the deal. “This landmark legislation does justice to New York State by ending the ban, removing conviction records that have reduced opportunities for countless young black and predominantly Latin American New Yorkers, and providing a economic justice to ensure that communities that have suffered the brunt of aggressive and disparate law enforcement marijuana are the front line to reap the economic gains, ”the group said in a press release Sunday.
Melissa Moore, director of the Drug Policy Alliance for New York State, said the bill “really puts a nail in the coffin of the war on drugs that has been so devastating to communities in New York, and put in place comprehensive policies that are truly rooted in the community. reinvestment.
Cuomo pointed to the growing acceptance of legalization in the Northeast, including Massachusetts, Maine and, more recently, New Jersey.
Past efforts to legalize recreational use have been hampered by lack of support from suburban Democrats, disagreements over how to split sales tax revenue on marijuana, and questions about how to deal with suspected drivers. to drive high.
It has also faced opposition from law enforcement, schools and community advocates, who warn legalization would strain a health system already overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic and send messages. contradictory to young people.
“We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the severe youth vaping crisis and the continuing opioid epidemic, this nefarious legislation is counter-intuitive,” said an open letter signed by Medical Society of the State of NY, New York State Parent Teacher Association, New York Sheriff’s Association and several other organizations on March 11.
Authorities in New York are planning to launch an education and prevention campaign to reduce the risk of cannabis among school-aged children, and schools could get grants for vaping prevention and awareness programs and Drugs.
And the state will also launch a study scheduled by Dec.31, 2022, which examines how cannabis impairs driving and whether that depends on factors like weather and metabolism.
“One of the things that no country in the world has and that everyone wants is a way to quickly and easily determine if someone is high or weakened by cannabis,” said R. Lorraine. Collins, psychologist and professor of community health and health behavior. . “Research is underway to find systems capable of doing this. But I think these efforts will not bear fruit for some time. “
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