Andrew Cuomo Signs Bill Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use in New York (UPDATE)

Scandal-embroiled Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state government leaders reportedly agree on legislation to legalize the sale and possession of recreational marijuana.


Image via Getty/Hector Vivas


UPDATED 3/31 11:31 a.m. ET: Andrew Cuomo has officially signed the bill into law. “The bill creates automatic expungement of previous marijuana convictions that would now be legal,” he tweeted. “This is a historic day.”

New York is now the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana use.

UPDATED 3/30, 11:46 p.m. ET: New York’s state Senate and Assembly both voted to pass marijuana legalization for recreational use, the New York Post reports. The state Senate passed the legislation with a vote of 40-23 while the state Assembly voted 100-49 in support of the bill.

“For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement released after the voting took place.

He also said that he’s looking “forward to signing this legislation into law.”

The bill will make up to 3 ounces of marijuana or 24 ounces of marijuana concentrate legal to possess while it will be legal to posses up to five pounds of marijuana at home. People will also be allowed to grow up to six plants at their residence with a limit of 12 plants per household. New Yorkers 21 and older will also of course be able to use the drug as it will be removed from the list of controlled substances. 

Additionally, the bill includes equity programs that will give grants and loans to communities impacted by the war on drugs, CNBC reports.

“My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities,” bill sponsor Sen. Liz Krueger said.

Legal sales of the plant are expected to begin sometime next year.

UPDATED 3/25, 11:15 a.m. ET: Recreational marijuana will be legalized in New York, after state officials finalized a deal on Thursday, the New York Times reports.

According to details obtained by NYT, the deal would “allow delivery of the drug and permit club-like lounges or ‘consumption sites’ where marijuana, but not alcohol, could be consumed” Individuals would also be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use.

See original story below.

New York may be one step closer to marijuana legalization.

According to Bloomberg, state lawmakers have reached an agreement to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana and decriminalize cannabis possession for adults aged 21 and older. The deal, which was brokered between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, reportedly includes a 13 percent sales tax on cannabis products, 9 percent of which will benefit the state, the rest going to local governments. 

The governor’s office reportedly estimates the legislation could rake in about $350 million a year once it’s signed into law. The bill would also create a state regulatory agency that will license cannabis growers and retailers. 

New York lawmakers are expected to vote next week on the bill, which will likely take effect in 2022. If the legislation is approved, the state will become the 15th in America to legalize recreational marijuana use. On Wednesday, Cuomo told reporters cannabis legalization was among his top executive priorities for the state’s upcoming budget, which is due April 1.

“We’ve been trying to legalize cannabis for three years. I’ve failed about every year. We’re close, but we’ve been close three times before,” Cuomo told reporters Wednesday. “We have passed the point of legalized cannabis. It’s in New Jersey. It’s in Massachusetts. To say we’re going to stop it is not an option; it’s already here. … I believe New York is the progressive capital of the nation—not just because we say it is but because we perform that way. And legalizing cannabis is this year’s priority to be the progressive capital of the nation. We won’t be the first, but our program will be the best.”

Cuomo’s announcement comes as he faces sexual misconduct allegations from at least eight women. Lawmakers including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerrold Nadler have called for the governor’s resignation. Cuomo has denied the allegations and insists he will not bow to “cancel culture.”

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