New York legalizes grownup hashish use

On March 31, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Revenue and Taxation Act (MRTA), which instantly legalizes adult use, home cultivation, and possession of cannabis for adults over the age of 21. According to the governor, previous cannabis-related convictions will be automatically cleared after the bill is signed this morning.

The law establishes the Office of Cannabis Management, which will establish and administer the regulatory system for the commercial cannabis market in New York.

According to Steve Schain, senior attorney at Hoban Law Group, the Office of Cannabis Management will have a five-person board that oversees not only the adult cannabis market, but also medicinal cannabis as well as the state hemp market. For the medical market, the new legislation provides for more patient caregivers, home cultivation, and an expanded list of qualified conditions.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Image: Chris Rank, Flickr

Troy Smit, assistant director of New York’s NORML chapter, says the calculation may not be perfect, but it is a huge win for the cannabis community. “It took activists, patients and consumers a lot of work and perseverance to move from being the cannabis arrest capital of the world to running the world with a legalized market that advocates justice, diversity and inclusion,” says Smith. “That might not be the perfect law, but today cannabis users can hold their heads up and smell the flowers.”

The MRTA establishes a two-tier licensing structure that separates growing and processing licenses from dispenser licenses. The bill contains an aspect of social justice, according to which 50% of the licenses must be given to “minority or women-owned companies, veterans with disabilities or distressed farmers,” says Schain.

New York City
Image: Rodrigo Paredes, Flickr

Melissa Moore, director of the Drug Policy Alliance in New York State, says she is proud of the social justice plan the bill is creating. “Let’s be clear – the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act is an absolute victory for the communities hardest hit by the failed war on drugs,” says Moore. “This law is the new gold standard for nationwide reform efforts by putting community reinvestment, social justice and equity at the center. Today we celebrate, tomorrow we work hard to ensure that this law is implemented in a fair and equitable manner for all New Yorkers. “

According to Schain, the new tax structure shifts to the retail level with a consumption tax of 9% and a local consumption tax of 4% of the retail price (divided between 25% / 75% between the respective counties and municipalities). Cannabis tax revenue goes into a fund that uses 40% for education, 40% for the reinvestment fund for community grants, and 20% for the drug treatment and public education fund.

It appears that companies already established in the New York medical market have a head start in the emerging adult-use market, while other companies are stepping into the license application process, according to Schain. “Although existing medical marijuana licensees should be able to sell adult cannabis immediately, it will take up to two years for the New York adult-use program to bring sales to market and make them available to the public,” says Schain.

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