Governor signs off on bill to legalize recreational cannabis for adults

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on the bill that legalizes adult-use recreational marijuana in New York State. That means adults 21 and up can now legally possess up to three ounces of cannabis, but the legal sale of the drug won’t start until later. 

The governor, who is facing multiple scandals, signed off on the legislation privately Wednesday morning without the fanfare of a public appearance. Advocates say the law is a historic moment for New York and will be an economic boost.

“The use of marijuana in New York State is already prevalent, and this way it will be regulated, it will be taxed, and I think it’s doing things the right way to make sure that people are safe,” said State Senator John Mannion.

The law contains automatic expungement of records of previous marijuana convictions that are now legal. People 21 and up can also possess up to three ounces of cannabis. 

The legal sale of cannabis could take anywhere from 18 months to two years. And most of the decisions around that will fall under the new Office of Cannabis Management. It will have a five-member board with three of those appointments coming from the Governor, one from the Senate, and one from the Assembly. While it will operate as part of the State Liquor Authority, the Governor’s Office says it will be an independent office. 

“The Office of Cannabis Management will have an executive director, will have a board of directors that will really come up with all of the details, the regulatory framework for how the licenses will work, what the application fees might be, any timeline,” said State Senator Jeremy Cooney, who says lawmakers want to make sure the process isn’t rushed. 

“We want to learn from the medicinal marijuana process that we went through to find some best practices and make an equitable and fair process for all New Yorkers to apply to be part of this new industry,” Cooney said.  

The marijuana legalization bill was passed outside of the state budget. That budget is supposed to be due at midnight, but we’re hearing that it likely won’t be on time. 

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