This week, an agreement is underway that would see adult-use cannabis products and a limited number of homegrown marijuana plants to be legalized in New York. Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, stated on Tuesday that democrats in the state Legislature are "really, really close.”
The bill has been close to the finish line before, hitting roadblocks in the form of safety concerns by law enforcement groups and the state’s sheriff’s association. However, new problems have been raised by construction and business groups, fearing workers affected by marijuana will be impaired on the job.
The New York Governors office has estimated that a legal cannabis program could bring revenue of up to $350 million when it is entirely up and running. The proposed tax structure on Marijuana will be similar to that of the current tax levied on alcohol.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said on Tuesday things are getting “really, really, really close on marijuana” after negotiations with the executive staff office, “We have gotten past the impasse of the impaired driving.”
Stuart-Cousins explained that it would just be a case of inserting adequate language into the bill, which may include a provision to provide extra tax dollars to be used to train law enforcement in identifying impaired driving.
Andrew Yang, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and currently running for Mayor in New York City, has also been open about his support of the bill, stating:
“...I’m for the total decriminalization of cannabis and marijuana, and we have to make sure that communities of color actually participate in the economic gains that are going to result from legalization.”
In 2020 Cannabis possession was decriminalized in New York, which was a significant step for the cannabis industry. Unfortunately, a framework for the regulation or sales and possession of cannabis was never put into place. In January 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered the Executive Budget Proposal for 2021-2022. Included in this proposal was an extensive piece of legislation called the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) that included the legalization of cannabis for adult-use.
Covered in the CRTA are the following key provisions:
- The Office of Cannabis Management
- Market Structure
- Social Equity
- Taxes, Local Control, and other Amendments
Third Year in a Row For The Governor’s Proposal
Gov. Cuomo has been including proposals to legalize cannabis in his budgets for the past two years. Issues in relation to tax structures for the market and for social equity programs have contributed to the continuous delay of the legislation passing. The CRTA will be his third proposal, and there are encouraging comments from officials, including a state budget spokesperson who said that:
“administration is working with all parties to pass a comprehensive regulatory structure for adult-use cannabis that prioritizes social equity, social justice, economic development, and the public health and safety of all New Yorkers.”
Mounting statements from officials in support of the bill are pointing to a strong possibility of it passing. Officials, including some of the top Republicans in the New York Assembly, have said they expect the legislature to legalize cannabis this session.
State Senate Finance Committee Chair, Liz Krueger told Bloomberg Government:
“It is my understanding that the three-way agreement has been reached and that bill drafting is in the process of finishing a bill that we all have said we support,”
It does appear as though the legalization of cannabis in the state of New York is inevitable; whether it comes to pass during the upcoming session or in the near future will remain to be seen.