Weed all about it!
New York State officials have reached a deal to legalize marijuana, legislative sources told The New York Post on Wednesday — just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “essential” to the state’s social and economic well-being.
The reform measures will be included in the laws to be proposed as part of the state budget on April 1, the sources said.
The deal would allow New Yorkers over the age of 21 to legally buy and possess up to three ounces of pot for their personal use, with licensed sales to begin by December 2022, sources said.
Recreational stoners could even cultivate up to a dozen plants per household, but a big bummer in the agreement would make them wait to start growing their own until 18 months after the first license dispensary opens, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle said.
Plans call for a 9 percent state tax on retail sales that could generate $300 million a year in new revenues, state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) told The Post.
Cities, towns and villages could tack on another 4 percent sales tax or opt out of allowing local sales and deliveries.
The deal includes the creation of a new state regulatory agency, the Office of Cannabis Management, to license growers, retail sales, delivery and on-premises consumption, Krueger said.
Still-unresolved issues include how the tax money would be distributed beyond funding the new agency, with plans calling for 40 percent dedicated to school aid, 40 percent to social-equity grants and the remaining 20 to treatment and public education.
In addition, Cuomo wanted the agency under his control but the plan calls for it to answer to a five-member board with three gubernatorial appointees and one each selected by the state Senate and Assembly, respectively, Krueger said.
Sources said that money would have to be earmarked for additional “trained drug-recognition officers” and that the state police and Health Department would have to certify a device to test motorists suspected of driving while high.
During a news conference earlier Thursday, Cuomo said he was making marijuana legalization a top priority in budget negotiations with lawmakers.
“This year we have to get it done, and getting it done by the time the budget is passed is essential,” he said.
“Cannabis is not just social equity, it’s also revenue for the state.”
Cuomo bluntly admitted that weed should have been legalized “years ago” and — in an extraordinary acknowledgment — blamed himself for state’s official prohibition of pot. “We’ve been trying to legalize cannabis for three years. I’ve failed every year,” he said.
“We’re close. Close three times before. If we were playing horseshoes, we would be in good shape. But this is not horseshoes, you either get it done, and sign a bill, or you don’t.”
To read more from The New York Post, click here.