Recreational Marijuana Laws In New York

The need to legalize adult recreational cannabis in the state of New York became a point of agreement Saturday night among New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

The three New York Democrat heavy hitters released a joint announcement: Within the following week, the state legislature will introduce and vote on bills legalizing regulated recreational cannabis production, possession, use and sales for adults 21 years of age and older.

Marijuana is very popular among voters who use cannabis. New York’s Democratic Party machine is a calculating gearbox of political operatives.

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What Does Legal Marijuana Have to Offer New York Governor Andrew Cuomo?

Picture New York State’s Democratic steering committee taking into account the 10,374 Marijuana Criminal Court Summonses that AM New York reports were issued to New York residents in 2020, with 94 percent of those 10,374 cannabis related arrests putting the cuffs on people of color. Factor in that Covid 19 shutdowns slowed the pace of last year’s marijuana arrests and undershot the potential for criminalizing thousands more innocent citizens for trifling cannabis possession.

A plan was formulated to refute all of this race-based cannabis persecution that was imposed under the whims of a justice system directed by Democrat governance: The state machine’s party bosses agreed to announce it will give the masses of arrested cannabis users and every cannabis user who has not yet been arrested by New York’s finest a free pass to use cannabis.

In return, New York’s marijuana embracing electorate will fire up a celebratory cannabis cone. Like magic:

  1. nine women’s sexual harassment accusations pending against New York Governor Cuomo
  2. the Cuomo ordered coverup of how many healthy elderly people were infected and died as a direct result of the Governor forcing nursing home’s to accept patients diagnosed with Covid 19
  3. the book Cuomo published, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, congratulating himself for doing a better job than any other elected official the world over in beating the covid pandemic
  4. the loud demands from Cuomo’s own party, including United States Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), his Democratic colleague, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and New York City’s Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, for Cuomo to resign

All these scandals of sex and death and hubris will be forgotten by a constituency promised that it will soon be legally smoked out in a spicy sativa haze.

Cannabis Laws

Nuts and Bolts of New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act

In truth, it is impossible to know beyond conjecture if New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s timing on promising to present cannabis legalization to the state legislature is intended to distract from the Governor’s crisis of confidence.

Only one thing about New York State’s promised cannabis legislation is certain. If the cannabis regulation bills do pass and are eventually put into practice, there will be taxes. Liz Krueger, chairperson of the New York State Senate Finance Committee broke down the regulated cannabis tax tables to Bloomberg News:

The deal that legislative leaders brokered with Cuomo (D) would legalize cannabis use for adults 21 years old and up, and includes a 13% sales tax, 9% of which would go to the state and 4% to the localities, Krueger said. Distributors additionally would collect an excise tax of as much as 3 cents per milligram of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, with a sliding scale based on the type of product and its potency.

No changes would be made to the taxes already imposed on marijuana sold for medical purposes, Krueger said.

ABC News reported that along with hitching tax hikes to THC content, an automatic expungement or resentencing for any person with a previous marijuana conviction, who according to data collected by the Community Justice Unit of New York’s Legal Aid Society will most likely be a person of color, will be baked into the bill.

The New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act’s expungement clause is that rare gift where the force promising to remove the knee from a victim’s neck is the same force that put the knee to the neck in the first place.

Where Will New York’s Marijuana Money Go?

Governor Cuomo’s office has floated the estimate of 350 million marijuana dollars per year being counted in New York state and local treasuries once the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act is operational.

Tax revenues, from what New York State Senate Finance Committee Chairperson Liz Krueger told Bloomberg News, will be:

… divided among programs to help people rebuild their lives after marijuana possession arrests; to help neighborhoods; education; and drug treatment.

Any New Yorkers negatively impacted by past cannabis prosecution policy should think twice rather than hold their breath waiting for that government marijuana money arriving to assist in the rebuilding of their lives.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act has not been promised to be implemented any sooner than a year following enactment. That’s 525,600 New York minutes, and anything can happen in any one of those.

Written by
Allan MacDonell
Allan MacDonell

Allan MacDonell’s work has been featured in publications ranging from Dazed and Confused UK to the New York Times and Washington Post. He is the author of Prisoner of X, Punk Elegies and Now That I Am Gone, and was a founding editorial director at online outlets including Buzznet, TakePart and Kindland. MacDonell views teaming with Leafwell as an opportunity to encourage the emerging role of legal cannabis as a highly effective medical treatment.

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