New York! The Time Is Nearly Here to Legally Grow From Your Yard

And that’s “yard” in my Brooklyn voice.

New York is finally getting with the times. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers will soon be inking the deal to legalize recreational marijuana, like this Saturday (3/27) soon – or any time in the following week. New York would license dispensaries and of course, tax the weeds on various levels.

The deal? It involves legal use for adults 21+ and a 13% sales tax, with 9% going to the state and 4% going to local tings. Legal pushers will also collect an excise tax, which are normally required on alcohol and tobacco, of up to 3 cents per mg of THC. There’d be no additional taxes on medical marijuana. Whoop???

If this passes, sales will begin as soon as next year, according to Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger who supports the bill as it’s in its drafting stages. Krueger is confident it will pass and feels it’s about time. Assembly Majority Leader Crystal People-Stokes, who sponsored the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act with Krueger said, “Because we’re New Yorkers, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can speed this up.”

I know that’s right. We can also care about those truly affected by the War on Drugs. To this, People-Stokes said,

“We understand the ramifications of decades of incarceration of a people that actually ends up costing us, as a government, money. This community reinvestment could reverse that whole dynamic. We could reinvest in people’s lives.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D)

As far as the budget, legislators want to keep that separate from weed talk so that they can have more influence on policy, such as neighborhood programs focused on helping people reacclimate into society post prison, drug treatment, and education – along with a tax revenue that would cover “cannabis-related expenses at the state level.”

Some names you may know like Acreage Holdings, Columbia Care, Cresco Labs, Curaleaf, and Green Thumb Industries are all looking at an upper-hand. The new law would allow big corporate canna companies such as these to increase the number of dispensaries they have and products they sell. Licenses would allow for any business, big or small, to vertically integrate.

What does this mean for equity and the Black and brown community? We don’t know, yet. The folks running the show are still having a hard time deciding over language legalities like “may” and shall.” (The police love to change the law when it benefits them, so although small, still very important.)

In a recent briefing with reporters, Cuomo declared,

“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.”

We’ll see.

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