New York State Legislature Votes To Legalize Cannabis

By Adriel Colon-Casiano

New York State Legislature Votes To Legalize Cannabis

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After lengthy negotiations between the governor’s office and the Legislature, a compromise was reached over the weekend to legalize adult use cannabis.

The two proposals largely differed on a regulatory scheme and on how tax revenue generated by the sale of cannabis would be spent, whether it would focus on general revenue for the state or towards communities disproportionately impacted by enforcement of drug policy.

The bill was the subject of much debate on the floor of both houses, the final language only having been available to the public Saturday evening. The proposal is estimated to generate $350 million annually and create between 30,000 and 60,000 new jobs throughout the state.

The bill will create a new Office of Cannabis Management, expand the qualifying list of medical conditions for medical cannabis, permit adult-use cannabis, allow cannabis plants to be grown at home and automatically expunge or resentence certain prior marijuana convictions.

NYSBA is planning two programs that will delve deeper into this legislation. On April 12, elected officials involved in the drafting and passage of this legislation will speak about the bill. On April 20, the association will host a 3-hour MCLE with a New York focus on the impact of the recently enacted legislation on the practice of law.

In January of 2020, the New York State Bar Association approved a report on cannabis legalization and adopted as a legislative priority  the legalization of cannabis with social equity provisions.

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