ALBANY – New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana after state lawmakers approved it on March 30 and Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted it the next day.
But the first legal sales of marijuana in New York will stick around for at least a year as the state puts in place a regulatory system to oversee the cannabis industry.
New York’s new marijuana law allows the cultivation, sale, and possession of cannabis products, including marijuana, with residents of the state also being given the green light to grow plants in their homes – eventually.
The Legislature approved the bill largely on the basis of parties, with most Democrats voting for and most Republicans voting against.
Here is some of what the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act it will be fine:
The bill applies to anyone over the age of 21. It is still illegal to own, buy or use marijuana if you are under the age of 21.
It is now legal for people over 21 in New York City to own, display, purchase, obtain, or transport up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, according to the bill.
The bill also specifies that adults may use, smoke, ingest or consume cannabis or concentrated cannabis products, including marijuana. And they can give it to anyone over 21.
For now, New York is in a gray area: although you can legally possess marijuana, the sale of the drug is not yet permitted. This will not happen until the state issues various licenses for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana and gives the green light for the start of sales, which cannot happen under the law. law until April 1, 2022 at the earliest.
Eventually, you will be able to have up to five pounds of marijuana in your home, although this will wait until home grow regulations are in place – which will take up to six months for medical marijuana patients, and possibly. be 2 1/2 years or older for other users.
New York’s plan will allow the state to issue a variety of different cannabis licenses, with different ones available to producers, processors, distributors and retail sites.
There will be two different types of sites authorized to sell marijuana to consumers:
- Retail dispensaries, which will essentially be storefronts where people can buy cannabis products and take them home
- Adult-only consumption sites, which will be salon-like places where people can buy marijuana and use it on site.
Sales of marijuana will be taxed at a rate of 14%, according to the bill.
Of this amount, 9% will go to the state, while 3% will go to the town or village where the sale is made and 1% will go to the county.
According to the bill, a tax will also be imposed depending on the THC content when selling from retail dispensers: 0.5 cents per milligram for flowers, 0.8 cents per milligram for concentrated cannabis and 3 cents. per milligram for edibles.
The state’s share of tax revenue from marijuana – which is expected to rise to $ 350 million per year when fully implemented – will be distributed in three ways. 40% will go to grants for communities disproportionately affected by previous drug laws; 40% will go to schools and education; and 20% will go to drug treatment and education programs, according to the bill.
The law will create a new Cannabis Management Office to implement regulations and oversee the entire industry, including the recreational marijuana, medical marijuana and hemp sides.
The office will be overseen by a council appointed by the governor and legislative heads. The office will also have an executive director appointed by the governor.
Penalties will begin to apply once someone owns or displays more than three ounces of cannabis flower or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.
They ranged from a simple low-level offense to a Class D felony for possession of more than 10 pounds of flowers or four pounds of concentrate.
The illegal sale penalties would remain for anyone who sells unlicensed marijuana or cannabis products. They range from a violation on the low end to a Class C felony for over 100 pounds.
It will also remain illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, although there remains considerable debate on how best to enforce it.
The law will require the state’s health department to investigate the use of saliva-based marijuana tests and recommend whether they can be used in the future.
If you have been convicted of a previously illegal cannabis-related act that the bill legalizes, your case will automatically be struck off.
The law requires the State Judicial Administration Office to go through its files and determine which file contains a crime that needs to be cleared. The office will have up to two years to complete the tax, according to the bill.
The law doesn’t seem to give a date on which legal sales of marijuana can begin, but it will certainly be several months before that happens.
Legal sales will not begin until the state issues a license for cultivation, processing and sale.
It will take some time: the governor and legislative leaders will have to appoint people to the Cannabis Management Office and the board of directors, then they will have to approve the regulations and go through the licensing process.
The tax structure of the law will not come into effect until April 1, 2022, which appears to be the first legal sale that could begin.
Yes, but not for a while.
The law allows every New Yorker over the age of 21 to grow up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants at a time, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.
If you are a certified patient of the state’s medical marijuana program, you can start growing no later than six months after the law comes into force, provided the Office of Cannabis Management has put growth rules in place by then, which will be legally required. make.
For recreational users, the wait will be longer: growth can only start up to 18 months after the first legal sales in dispensaries or consumption sites, which pushes it back until 2023 or 2024. One more time times, it will depend on when the state gets the regulations approved. .
Jon Campbell is a New York State government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.
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