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New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

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Last night, the New York State Legislature held a vote on Senate Bill S854A, which, if passed, would legalize the recreational use of marijuana and its offshoots in the entire state. The New York State Senate passed the bill with a 40-23 vote, and the Assembly followed suit with a 100-43 vote. With the bill passed in both, all that remains is for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill into law, which he has every intention of doing, according to a statement he gave immediately after the vote.

“Tonight, the New York State Legislature took the first step in a major leap forward for the Empire State by passing legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis,” Cuomo said. “For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and 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.”

“New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy,” he added. “I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”

New York state government analysts have estimated that a legal adult-use cannabis industry could earn the state around $350 million annually in new taxes, as well as create anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs. Additionally, anyone who was previously convicted of possession of marijuana under the new legal limit will have their criminal record expunged.

“We applaud the New York Legislature and the tireless work of advocates for their commitment to ending cannabis prohibition through a social justice-centered approach,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project. “We expect 2021 to be a record-breaking year for legislatures legalizing cannabis. More than two-thirds of Americans believe it’s time to end prohibition and this move represents the latest example of elected officials joining the chorus of support for legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults.”

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