New York state officials have concluded a pact to legalize recreational marijuana usage following various failed efforts.
The New York Times reported that lawmakers in Albany struck an agreement with Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday. A Siena College poll conducted earlier this month found that nearly 60% of New York voters favor legalizing recreational marijuana.
The legislation will authorize the recreational use of cannabis for adults who are 21 or older. Lawmakers expect the policy will affect how Black and Hispanic people are disproportionately patrolled and charged with low-level marijuana offenses. Under the proposed legislation, millions of dollars in tax revenue from marijuana sales would also be reinvested into marginalized communities every year.
According to a memo obtained by CNN, half of the related business licenses would go towards “social equity applicants”, which the new organization says encompasses “those from communities impacted by cannabis prohibition and minority- and women-owned businesses”.
“When this bill is finally voted on and signed, New York will be able to say we have finally undone damaging criminal justice laws that accomplished nothing but ruining people’s lives,” the Democratic state senator Liz Krueger told the Times. “We will finally be able to say we’re going to have an industry for cannabis that assures people who buy the product that they are buying a legitimate product from legitimate companies.”
The language of the legislation has not been finalized but could pass as soon as next week. If ratified, marijuana sales would likely not become legal for another year.
“Officials must first face the daunting task of writing the complex rules that will control a highly regulated market, from the regulation of wholesalers and dispensaries to the allocation of cultivating and retail licenses, to the creation of new taxes and a five-member control board that would oversee the industry,” the publication notes.