WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have come to an agreement on the bill that will legalize cannabis.
Included in the bill is the creation of an Office of Cannibis Management. That office will put together the framework for marijuana use.
There will also be a study done to determine how to handle cannabis-impaired driving. Until that study is done, the use of cannabis by drivers will remain prohibited.
The bill will also extend New York’s programs that currently cover medical marijuana.
It will provide licenses for weed growers, distributers, and retailers.
New Yorkers will also be free to grow their own weed with as many as twelve plants allowed per household.
New York would eliminate penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis, and expunge or re-sentence anyone with a previous marijuana conviction.
Cuomo’s administration says the development of the weed industry could bring in $350 million in taxes annually and create as many as 60 thousand new jobs across the state.
Here’s the breakdown of where the tax money from marijuana sales will go:
- 40% to education.
- 40% to community grants and reinvestments.
- 20% to drug treatment.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said “the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act does not just legalize the adult use of marijuana, but it rights decades of disproportionately targeting people of color, ensures they are included in the legal marijuana industry, and reinvests in education and in communities that have been harmed.”
Now, local government can choose to opt their city, town, or village out of allowing the sale of cannabis if they pass a local law by December 31st. They cannot, however, forbid the use of marijuana.
One local leader, Senator Patty Ritchie, says she for one has very serious concerns about the legalization.
In a statement today Ritchie said:
“While I am still reviewing the proposed legislation, one of my chief concerns regarding legalization is timing. We are in the midst of a pandemic where we have seen drug abuse and overdoses increase significantly. I fear the legalization of marijuana will only exacerbate the challenges we face when it comes to drug abuse in our communities.”
Now, the bill still has to go through the process of passing. But if it does, it will take effect immediately. However, to legally sell isn’t that simple. Assembly leaders estimate it could take as long as two years for sales to start.