New York moves to legalize recreational marijuana

New York State officials struck a deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow recreational use of cannabis. The move would create the largest legal cannabis market on the East Coast, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs and significant startups opportunities.

This is a big first step, though the first sale of recreational weed is unlikely to happen in 2021. The framework needs a final review, and lawmakers still need to create the rules and regulations surrounding commercial sales. According to the New York Times, the Democratic-controlled State Legislature could pass the bill as soon as next week.

The deal comes after several failed attempts to bring recreational cannabis to New York. Neighboring state New Jersey passed a recreational marijuana bill in the 2020 election.

The legislation, as purposed, has several interesting aspects. The purposed bill allows for weed delivery and club-like consumption lounges where patrons can consume cannabis but not alcohol. In-home growing is also allowed and limited to six plants for personal use. According to the NYT, the proposed deal funnels millions of dollars in tax revenue back to the communities where the failed war on drugs had a disproportionately negative impact. This includes reserving many business licenses for minority business owners and providing loans, grants, and incubator programs for small farmers.

New York lawmakers also intend to rework laws around possession by eliminating penalties for less than three ounces of cannabis. This would also expunge the record of those convicted of activities that are now legal.

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