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31st Mar 2021

New York legalises recreational marijuana

Danny Jones

New York is the next follow suit in the legalisation of recreational marijuana in the US

Following a bill approved yesterday evening, cannabis is now legal for personal use in New York. It becomes the 15th state to do so, with 36 states allowing medical marijuana usage since 2012.

The bill was signed off by Governor Andrew Cuomo, after the state’s Senate voted 40-23 and the Assembly 100-49 in favour of the legislation.

Decriminalisation of the plant is effective immediately but it is thought that legal recreational marijuana sales – such as has been commonplace in California since 2016 – will not come into place for another year or two.

This decision is also expected to have a huge impact on minority communities that have seen disproportionate levels of prosecution from law enforcement over possession of cannabis for many years. According to the NYPD’s own records, Black and Latino New Yorkers made up 94% of all marijuana-related arrests in 2020, despite there being more white weed smokers in the state.

In his statement following it’s approval, Cuomo went on to say: “For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of colour with harsh prison sentences”

“After years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public.”

Having seen the financial viability of legal weed in other states, this bill is expected to rake in billions of dollars for the state of New York City. With a 13% tax – compromised of a 9% state and 4% local contribution – the economic benefits that come with recreational sales are clear.

There will also be a THC potency tax of as much as 3 cents per milligram of the natural psychoactive component of marijuana that high. Think the sugar tax but just the stoner version.

As per CNBC, estimates predict the overall revenue from legal weed sales could bring in as much as $350 million a year, as well as creating 60,000 jobs in the state when the industry is fully established.