• Emily Drayton, Staff Writer

New York Gets on Board, Legalizes Cannabis for Adult-Use

If you turned your attention to New York today (March 31, 2021, for the record), you probably heard cries of "Hallelujah", "At last!!" and "Protect the children!" .... and everything in between.

That's because New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed NY State Senate Bill (S.854-A/A.1248-A) to officially kick off the process to create a fully legal adult-use market. If projections are correct (cannabis market projections for states are typically lower and slower than actual results), NY state could achieve the second largest state tax revenue from cannabis businesses in the US.


As reported by Ithaca Voice, the long-awaited approval accomplishes three major goals immediately:

  • Legalizes recreational use legal immediately for people over 21

  • Relaxes laws related to possession of marijuana both inside and outside of a residence (now allowable up to three ounces outside and five pounds inside)

  • Enacts automatic expungement for anyone who committed a crime related to marijuana that would now be legal under the new law, such as possession charges, and mandates resentencing for similar cases."

A subtle but significant nod to social equity, the law also authorizes the creation of the Office of Cannabis Management, not the Office of Marijuana Management. Let's hope that old racist term goes away for good.


A major component of the bill that may stifle the tax revenues is the provision that communities can vote to disallow dispensaries (but not use). As California has proven, the pearl-clutchers are about to emerge, shrieking in holy terror that a local dispensary will cause, rather than curtail, cannabis sales to their children. These latter-day Women's Christian Temperance Union-types will shortchange the state in tax revenues, in jobs, and will keep Drug Dealer Steve in business, out behind the bike racks at the local high school.


Unlike a dispensary, Steve doesn't card the kids who buy from him.


New Yorkers will be able to enjoy a stroll and a doob immediately, but might not have any legal way to buy fresh product for some time. Legalization of the plant is effective immediately but legal recreational sales are not expected to begin for one or two years, reports CNBC.


Governor Cuomo said after signing the legislation, "“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.”

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