Marijuana is legal for adults and is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol; state also has a medical marijuana law
New York becomes 16th state to legalize cannabis!
Last update: March 31, 2021
In late March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and legislative leaders reached consensus on the details of legalizing cannabis in the Empire State, and the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) received final approval from state legislators on March 30. The following day, Gov. Cuomo signed the bill to legalize adult-use cannabis, making New York the 16th state to end cannabis prohibition!
New York is the third state to adopt a legalization policy by passing a bill through its state legislature, joining Illinois and Vermont. Thirteen additional states have legalized by voter initiative.
Under the legislation, adults over 21 may possess up to three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrate, plus adults can grow a maximum of three mature plants and three immature plants once regulations are adopted. Legal possession of up to three ounces is effective immediately. Additionally, the law includes provisions for automatic expungement, community reinvestment, and measures to ensure the industry includes communities that have been disproportionately targeted by cannabis enforcement. A summary of the MRTA is available here.
Congratulations to the Empire State on this huge victory!
Gov. Cuomo signs bill to improve decriminalization law
In 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed A08420/S06579 into law, which fixed the state’s decriminalization law and added automatic expungement for past convictions.
The bill reduces the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana to a $50 fine (from $100). It also closes the “public view” loophole that law enforcement has used as a pretext to arrest tens of thousands of New Yorkers and automatically erases old convictions for decriminalized conduct. You can read a summary of the law here.
PTSD added as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana
To mark Veterans Day, in November 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an MPP Foundation-backed bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. In addition, the Department of Health added chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions in 2017. MPP and our supporters urged that restrictions in the proposed rules be removed, and while the Department of Health declined to do so, it did clarify that patients need not try opioids prior to qualifying for medical cannabis.