Marijuana Becomes Legal in New York State
Around the country, more and more states are legalizing marijuana for recreational use. One of the latest states to pass legislation for legalized pot was New York, and it is poised to have some powerful effects on those living in the state, particularly from an economic standpoint. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill in March that legalized possession and use of marijuana.
What does this mean for the people of NY State, and what are the rules and regulations that are already in place? Thus far, everything from the state has been straightforward about what can and can’t be done, and what the new law allows for in the field. Let’s take a closer look.
What Are the Laws for Marijuana in New York?
Although marijuana has been legalized in the state, there are still certain laws that need to be followed. According to the law, individuals are now allowed to have up to three ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes, or up to 24 grams of concentrated forms. This would include oils, for example.
Additionally, those in New York can smoke cannabis in public where smoking tobacco would be allowed. However, local governments and a new state agency could create regulations that would restrict where the marijuana can be smoked. It is not legal to smoke on school grounds, in workplaces, or inside of a vehicle.
It is important to keep in mind that people need to be at least 21 years old to possess and use marijuana. In addition to having up to three ounces for personal use, adults can grow three mature and three immature plants at a time. They can grow these for their own use.
Also, the sale of marijuana will include a 13% sales tax. There will likely be other changes that will be introduced as the framework for the market is developed further.
An Economic Benefit
Legalization could also help the state to recover from the economic ravages of the coronavirus. Many people lost their jobs over the course of the last year, but with the legalization, it could provide up to 60,000 new jobs associated with the industry. The sales tax on marijuana will also help the state to earn around $350 million in tax revenue annually.
Out of the 13% sales tax mentioned above, 9% will be going directly to the state. Out of that 9%, 40% goes to help fund education. Another 40% will be going to support communities of color that have been heavily impacted by the war on drugs. The final 20% will go to help fund anti-addiction efforts.
The remaining 4% from the 13% sales tax will go to local governments. It is important to note that communities will have the right to disallow cannabis stores from opening up in their town. However, those towns that do allow for the shops will receive 75% of their local share of the sales tax. The final 25% of that will go to the county. Using the tax revenue in this manner does several things. First, it will incentivize more communities to allow these types of stores, which will help to grow their local economy. Second, the money from the taxes is being put toward real and beneficial changes in local communities and across the state.
Many people are looking forward to getting into the field and opening up marijuana-related businesses. According to the new law, license applications from people of color and for women will receive priority for getting a license. Interestingly, if someone sold marijuana illegally in the past, they now have an opportunity to gain a legal license to sell.
There are plenty of new opportunities in this field for entrepreneurs who are looking for a different type of business. They might focus on creating a dispensary, or they might be looking into other ancillary products that they can create and sell. With the economic hardships that have faced so many in the state over the past year, this could be just the shot in the arm that’s needed. It promises to be a boon for the economy.
Already, there are many large companies that work across multiple states in the marijuana business. The new law will limit the permits for these companies that are already operating medical dispensaries in the state. They will now only be able to open up four additional stores. There is also a requirement that two of those stores need to be in underserved communities.
Help for the Incarcerated
For decades, the courts would convict people of marijuana-related crimes with regularity. Many would end up with criminal records that affected them for the rest of their lives. It could be more difficult to find work, places to live, and to have a normal life with a record. However, one of the other benefits of the legislation is that it will expunge these records.
Legalization also changes things for law enforcement. The police will no longer be able to arrest people in possession of small amounts of marijuana, which means the police and the rest of the criminal justice system should be able to focus on actual serious crimes instead.
A Long Overdue Change
Times are changing in the United States when it comes to the way people view cannabis. There is far less of a stigma attached, and people are seeing the benefits that it can provide even outside of medical uses. The new changes in New York State are just the latest in the country. Many other states have allowed for the legalization of marijuana, such as Colorado and California, with great effect.
Those who are in New York and who are excited about these changes will still want to make sure they keep up with any changes to the law that may affect their personal use or their business. These are still the early days in the state and the regulatory structure is still being built. It will likely follow a similar path to other states.