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Politics

NY Lawmakers Reach Deal To Legalize Pot For Recreational Use

Recreational marijuana is on its way to being legalized in New York.
Recreational marijuana is on its way to being legalized in New York. Photo Credit: Daily Voice

New York State lawmakers have reached a deal to legalize recreational marijuana, with a bill expected to be passed as soon as next week as language on the legislation is finalized.

When it's approved, “The Cannabis Law” legislation would create a new Office of Cannabis Management that will be controlled by a Cannabis Control Board, according to CNN.

Under the legislation, board officials would provide licenses for each step of the supply chain: farming, processing, distribution, dispensaries, and retail "consumption" sites.

The legislation will permit New Yorkers over the age of 21 to grow their own plants, while there will be a 13 percent tax on retail sales for state and local tax revenue.

Percentages of the program's revenue would go to the State Lottery Fund for Education and the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund.

Another portion would go to the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund which allows qualified community-based organizations and approved local government entities “to reinvest in communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies.”

Law enforcement will determine potential intoxication if there is an odor of cannabis, but the odor cannot be used as a justification for searching a car for contraband.

“Impairment by cannabis" would be included in the infraction "Driving While Ability Impaired.

The criminal penalties will also be altered for unlawful possession and sale of marijuana.

It will be a violation for possessing three ounces of flower or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis and it will be a felony for more than 10 pounds of flower or four pounds of concentrated cannabis.

Municipalities will also have the option of opting out if residents pass a local vote.

This week New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proclaimed that legalizing cannabis was his top priority in advance of the passage of the state budget, noting it's something the state has been working toward for several years.

“We have passed the point of legalized cannabis. It's in New Jersey. It's in Massachusetts,” Cuomo said. “To say we're going to stop it is not an option. It is here. The only question is, do we regulate it here, do we gather the revenue here, or do we have people driving to New Jersey, which is right there.”

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