ALBANY, N.Y.—New York has legalized the use of recreational marijuana, tying the approval to a program that will give minority communities a chunk of the new tax revenue, the New York Times reports. This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law, making New York the 15th state to legalize the use of cannabis recreationally.
The new law will send 40% of tax revenue from cannabis sales to minority communities that have historically experienced disproportionate numbers of arrests related to marijuana. Those with marijuana-related convictions will have their records expunged automatically.
“Unlike any other state in America, this legislation is intentional about equity,” said state Rep. Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who sponsored the proposal. “Equity is not a second thought, it’s the first one, and it needs to be, because the people who paid the price for this war on drugs have lost so much.”
Some portions of the law went into immediate effect, including that New Yorkers can smoke cannabis in public wherever tobacco smoking is permitted. Localities and a new state agency can put further restrictions on cannabis smoking, which is prohibited in workplaces, schools or inside a vehicle. New York City banned cannabis use on beaches, boardwalks, parks, playgrounds and pedestrian plazas, where tobacco smoking is already prohibited.
Dispensaries will not be open to sell cannabis for more than a year, and local governments can prohibit such businesses within their limits. The recreational marijuana market is forecast to bring in $350 million in annual taxes once it’s fully operational.
In November, voters in five states approved the use of cannabis recreationally. A month later, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to legalize marijuana use, but the bill hasn’t made it to the Senate yet. Uncover the “10 Myths on CBD” in the February issue of NACS Magazine.