New York State lawmakers have agreed to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. “The Cannabis Law” could be passed on Tuesday, CNN cites a legislative source familiar with the issue.
The law will allow New Yorkers who are above 21 to grow marijuana in their homes and a 13% tax imposed on retail sales for state and local tax revenue. The move comes on the heels of the legalization of marijuana in neighboring New Jersey last month.
According to the Associated Press, it has taken New York lawmakers years to legalize marijuana, and that the current deal reached was due to the determination by Democrats, who now wield a veto-proof majority in the legislature, to have it passed.
Sen. Liz Krueger, who is the sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate’s finance committee, said the goal of the legislation is to end the decades of marijuana prohibition which is leaving people of color out of the legal cannabis industry in New York.
“My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities,” Sen. Krueger said.
The legislation would come into force immediately after it is passed but sales wouldn’t start immediately due to other provisions of the law that must be met. One of the provisions is the setting up of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to be controlled by a Cannabis Control Board.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimates that the legalization of marijuana could fetch the state $350 million annually, according to AP. Also, the move, according to proponents of the law, could lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs while addressing racial injustice.
“Police, prosecutors, child services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) have used criminalization as a weapon against them, and the impact this bill will have on the lives of our over-surveilled clients cannot be overstated,” Alice Fontier, managing director of Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, said in a statement Saturday, according to the Guardian.
So far, 14 states in the U.S. allow residents to buy marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use.