New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana: Here’s What You Need to Know

Hand holding marijuana leaf at sunset
New York becomes the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana.Kym MacKinnon/Unsplash

This morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to legalize recreational use of cannabis in New York. This legislation makes New York the 15th state, along with the District of Columbia, to make marijuana use legal.

 

 

The New York measure allows the use of 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis products. It also allows for the growth of up to six pot plants at home. If you’re looking to purchase weed legally, you’ll find that dispensaries are a year or two from opening their doors.

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The new legislation will also address racial disparities in the enforcement of marijuana laws. New York Police Department arrest records in 2020 showed Black and Latino New Yorkers combined for 94 percent of marijuana-related arrests. Meanwhile, a 2015-2016 NYC Health survey showed 24 percent of white New Yorkers reporting cannabis use versus 14 percent of Black residents and 12 percent of Latino residents. As part of the bill, some marijuana-related convictions will automatically be expunged.

“I saw such injustice going on, and for young people whose lives were being destroyed for doing something I did when I was a kid,” said New York State Senator Liz Krueger, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Annual tax revenues from the sale of marijuana could be more than $300 million dollars yearly. To be clear, Colorado which legalized weed in 2012 already passed 1 billion dollars in tax revenues. In New York state, 40 percent of tax revenue will go to minority communities. In addition, the legislation will fund efforts to reduce risk of pot use in school kids and study the effect of cannabis use on driving.

“This is a historic day in New York, one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said in a statement.

As of today, you can smoke pot publicly in New York wherever you can smoke tobacco.

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