Mar 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

New York legalizes recreational marijuana


Photo: Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana for all adults over the age of 21.

Why it matters: New York is the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana and is expected to quickly become one of the largest markets for legal cannabis in the country.

  • The marijuana industry in New York is expected to generate $350 million in tax revenue annually and potentially create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs, according to Cuomo's office.
  • The measure will also expunge records for thousands of people with past marijuana-related convictions. People of color represented 94% of marijuana arrests in New York City in 2020.
  • About 46% of revenue from pot sales will be steered toward Latino and Black communities, per the New York Times.

The state of play: While the regulatory framework and infrastructure for selling and purchasing recreational marijuana will be rolled out in the coming months, eligible New Yorkers will immediately permitted to have up to three ounces of weed for recreational use or 24 grams of concentrated forms of marijuana, the Times adds.

  • New Yorkers will be allowed to smoke marijuana in any public place that tobacco smoking is permitted, but not in schools, workplaces or cars. Local ordinances may apply different rules.
  • Residents will also eventually be allowed to have small amounts of their own marijuana plants at home and get weed delivered to their doorsteps.

What he's saying: "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.

  • "This was one of my top priorities in this year's State of the State agenda and I'm proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis."
  • "I thank both the Leader and the Speaker, and the tireless advocacy of so many for helping make today's historic day possible."
Go deeper