The state of New York is all set to enact a landmark legislation legalizing recreational Marijuana use for people over the age of 21. The legislation to this effect was introduced on Saturday and voting on the long-demanded reform could take place as early as Tuesday.

Legalization of Marijuana is seen as an important step in ensuring racial justice and ending mass incarceration of people of color who have hitherto been penalized and imprisoned in disproportionately large numbers for possession, sale, purchase and consumption of Marijuana, across the United States.

“I am thrilled to announce that there is three-way agreement to pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. The final bill provides long awaited marijuana justice for New Yorkers, and makes significant steps and investments to begin to address the generational devastation caused by marijuana prohibition and mass incarceration,” said New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who is spearheading the legislation with fellow Democrat, Senator Liz Krueger. “Cannabis legalization in New York will be centered on equity, investment into communities, economic opportunities for historically disenfranchised people, research, education, and public safety. I am honored to sponsor this legislation and excited to see the positive impact it will have for so many New Yorkers,” she added.

 “I am very proud that we finally have a three-way agreed bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in a way that foregrounds racial justice, while balancing safety with economic growth, encouraging new small businesses, and significantly diminishing the illegal market,” said Senator Liz Krueger. “My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities,” she explained adding, “I believe we have achieved that in this bill, as well as addressing the concerns and input of stakeholders across the board. When this bill becomes law, New York will be poised to implement a nation-leading model for what marijuana legalization can look like.”

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • Dedicating 40% of revenue to reinvestment in communities disproportionately impacted by the drug war, with 40% to schools and public education, and 20% to drug treatment, prevention and education.
  • Equity programs providing loans, grants, and incubator programs to ensure broad opportunities for participation in the new legal industry by people from disproportionately impacted communities as well as by small farmers.
  • A goal of 50% of licenses going to equity applicants.
  • Elimination of penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis.
  • Automatic expungement of records for people with previous convictions for activities that are no longer criminalized.
  • Establishment of a well-regulated industry to ensure consumers know exactly what they are getting when they purchase cannabis.

*Feature Image is a public domain image.