After years of back-and-forth and false starts, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers have finally landed today on a deal to legalize recreational weed in the state. The bill could be passed by the State Legislature next week. Even then, it'll take at least a year to finalize the rules of the market, taxes, and oversight of the state's cannabis business. From the New York Times:
The deal would allow delivery of the drug and permit club-like lounges or "consumption sites" where marijuana, but not alcohol, could be consumed, according to details obtained by The New York Times. It would also allow a person to cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home, indoors or outdoors, for personal use[…]
The deal was crafted with an intense focus on making amends in communities impacted by the decades-long war on drugs. Millions of dollars in tax revenue from cannabis sales would be reinvested in minority communities each year, and a sizable portion of business licenses would be reserved for minority business owners.
"A percentage of revenue that is raised will get invested into the communities where the people who suffered mass incarceration come from and still live in many cases," said Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat who has spearheaded the legalization effort in the lower chamber for years. "For me this is a lot more than about raising revenue: It's about investing in the lives of the people that have been damaged."
The governor's office had previously estimated that legalizing marijuana could generate about $350 million in yearly tax revenue once the program was fully implemented, which could take years.
image: cropped photo of Denver, Colorado dispensary by Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 3.0)