Weed is Legalized in New York – Prior Marijuana Charges in NY to be Expunged

Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York have recently passed the legalization of recreational marijuana use, through the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. “I just signed legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis,” tweeted Governor Cuomo. This act not only legalizes recreational use, but will expunge prior marijuana charges in NY that are no longer criminalized. Those with expunged records will also be able to get licenses to grow and sell marijuana-based products.

With the bill signed to legalize recreational marijuana, residents of the state are legally allowed to have up to three ounces of the flower and up to 28 grams of concentrates. This change will not just allow New Yorker’s to use recreationally, it will also bring in an estimated $350 million in annual tax revenue, and is expected to grow into a $4.2 billion dollar industry within the next five years. 

Along with laws of recreational use, the smell of marijuana has been prohibited as a reason to search one’s vehicle. 

The expungement of prior marijuana charges in NY coupled with new laws around search will result in a massive decrease of the thousands of possession arrests that happen in New York each year. This news has been long-awaited by advocates calling for reform on the heavily disproportionate criminalization and arrests made for marijuana on Black and Brown communities over the years. According to a breakdown of the New York Police Department’s data displayed that 94% of marijuana-related arrests were on people of color. 

What’s in the Bill?

  • Club-like consumption sites and marijuana delivery will be permitted
  • The creation of an Office of Cannabis Management
  • Possession of 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrate is permitted
  • Recreational marijuana use will be legal to all over 21 years of age
  • New Yorkers may grow three marijuana plants per person, and six per household
  • The rate of tax on cannabis will be 13%, of which 9% is going to the state

What Happens Next?

It is very likely that getting through a framework and implementation of recreational marijuana will take months. It may be well into next year before cannabis can be bought legally. There is still plenty of work to do, but New York’s decision will have a substantial impact on the industry.