After years of fits and starts, New York appears to finally be ready to pass comprehensive cannabis legislation that legalizes recreational cannabis and expands its existing, restrictive medical cannabis program. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes spent the weekend negotiating revised legislation that combines elements of Governor Cuomo’s legalization plan and the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes. While the final version of the legislation has not yet been released, Marijuana Moment reports that the revised legislation will “more closely resemble the (MRTA) proposal sponsored by two key lawmakers.”

As a brief refresher, the MRTA was pre-filed in the New York Senate in early January 2021.  Key provisions of the MRTA included:

  • Creating a centralized, regulatory body for the licensure and regulation of medical, adult-use and hemp-based cannabis products and businesses.
  • Legalizing the purchase of recreational cannabis by adults 21 and older.
  • Permitting cultivation of up to six plants for personal use.
  • An 18 percent tax on cannabis sales.
  • A social and economic equity provision that awards 50 percent of adult-use cannabis licenses to individuals in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by past criminalization of cannabis, communities of color, minority- and women-owned business, disadvantaged farmers and service-disabled veterans.

A separate pre-filed bill co-sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes would remove the “serious” designation as a requirement to qualify for medical marijuana and increase the amount of cannabis that a patient can purchase at one time from a 30- to 60-day supply.

So, how soon will New York’s legislation actually be passed? The answer is: possibly as soon as next week. NY1’s Andrew Fink reports that “a final version of a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New York should post in the next day or so, clearing the way for a vote in both houses by next week.” We would love to see it.

These are exciting times for the cannabis industry in New York, long considered a sleeping giant because of its significant population and New York City’s status as a financial and cultural center. Stay tuned to the Canna Law Blog for a detailed summary of the final bill.