Lawmakers in New York state are finalizing an agreement to legalize recreational marijuana and will include millions of dollars that will be reinvested in minority communities each year.
The bill is still being reviewed and the legislation would be taken up in the state’s Assembly and Senate next week. According to The New York Times, the bill would allow the delivery of marijuana and club-like lounges, where marijuana could be consumed. The bill also allows residents to cultivate up to six marijuana plants indoors or outdoors, for personal use.
While many may be dreaming about toking up during a nice stroll around the city, that will have to wait. A five-member control board still needs to be put together. The group will oversee the entire industry and draw up the complex rules that will control the market. That includes taxes, the allocation of cultivating and retail licenses, wholesalers, and dispensaries.
The truly good news is the bill has been crafted with an intense focus on making amends to the communities impacted by the war on drugs. Millions in marijuana tax revenue would be reinvested in minority communities. A set amount of marijuana business licenses will be reserved for minority owners and entrepreneurs as well.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio initially wanted the revenue to go toward MTA funding. However, the revenue for the city’s congestion pricing plan on bridges and tunnels will most likely help the MTA, which has seen a 70% drop in ridership due to the pandemic and may not reach pre-pandemic levels again, now that telecommuting has become the norm.
The state of New Jersey recently legalized marijuana, which put additional pressure on New York to pass a bill or risk losing millions in tax revenue to its neighbor.
Marijuana bills have failed in the state three times in recent years due to Cuomo’s insistence on where the tax revenue goes. However, with Cuomo facing heat over claims of sexual harassment and nepotism related to COVID testing, it was evident that he needed a win. That gave those drafting the bill the leverage to ensure the tax revenue goes to the communities that have been impacted the most.