It’s high time weed became legal in the Empire State — and here’s everything you need to know about it.
On Wednesday, New York lawmakers struck a deal to legalize recreational marijuana, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling the move “essential” to the state’s economic well-being.
The potential green-light comes after infighting between Democrats foiled attempts to pass a pot bill in 2019 and 2020 — but the new agreement is a sign New Yorkers may soon be able to lawfully light up.
Here’s the scoop on the groundbreaking bill and how the rollout would work.
What does New York’s 2021 recreational weed bill allow?
All New Yorkers over the age of 21 will be able to buy up to 3 ounces of pot — roughly the equivalent of 250 joints — for their personal enjoyment.
Is the bill likely to pass? Maybe, maaan.
Gov. Cuomo has put marijuana legalization in his budget proposals for the past two years, but it was removed both years after disagreements between Democrats.
However, in light of the deal reached this week, the bill may be more successful this time around.
State Sen. Liz Krueger ( D-Manhattan), who sponsored the bill, said lawmakers got detailed input from industry stakeholders across the country in an effort to reach an agreement.
“I think that will give us a head start on a good program, because we were able to watch what other states went through and hopefully come up with something that addresses the problems,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
When could it pass? And when can I buy legal weed?
Lawmakers in the state Assembly and Senate will vote on it as early as next week. If it passes, legal marijuana could be sold in licensed dispensaries as soon as December 2022.
Does the bill let me grow my own legal weed?
Yes, green-thumbs can legally cultivate up to six marijuana plants each, or a dozen total, per home. But, under the bill, they must wait at least 18 months after the first dispensary opens, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
How will businesses in New York grow and sell legal weed?
The Empire State plans to establish an Office of Cannabis Management that’s tasked with doling out licenses for growing and selling marijuana. Shops and delivery services will also be required to get permits along with any business that wants to potentially allow smoking or the consumption of weed edibles on-site, according to the Wall Street Journal.
How have other states rolled out recreational marijuana?
If passed, New York will join 15 other states, as well as Guam and Washington, DC, in legalizing pot — New Jersey, Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Other pot-friendly states have enacted similar set-ups by creating special cannabis agencies to issue permits and regulate the industry. Those bodies control everything from cannabis farming to packaging and safety testing.
However, the price of permitting varies dramatically from state to state — ranging from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
How much revenue will legal marijuana make the state?
Pot products are expected to rake in $300 million per year once the program gets up and running. The bill calls for a 9 percent sales tax on those profits, while cities or towns will also take an additional 4 percent in taxes.
No changes will made to taxes already imposed on medical marijuana, according to Bloomberg News.
Is anybody still against legalizing weed in New York?
Yes, law-enforcement organizations and the New York State PTA released a statement this month saying that recreational marijuana was a “public and child health threat.”