Just under two months ago, New York lawmaker and Governor Andrew Cuomo legalized recreational marijuana use in the state in over 170 pages of legislation.
However, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S845A), as it is formally known, is less cumbersome to decipher in a summary provided by the Office of MP Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, a legalization advocate.
The following summary contains key points of the law, which is expected to come into force in full in January 2022.
Administrative office, board members
• The law provides for the establishment of the Office of Cannabis Management together with a board of directors and an advisory board. The Board of Directors consists of five members, three of whom are appointed directly by the Governor and one each by the Senate and the Assembly.
The board will be responsible for creating social and economic justice plans to ensure that a certain percentage of the licenses for the sale of cannibas go to communities affected by the war on drugs, suffering farmers and veterans with disabilities.
• The Office of Cannabis Management will review and process applications for cannabis licenses and create a public health campaign.
Special features, local opt-outs
• New Yorkers must be 21 years or older to buy and use recreational marijuana.
• Retail pharmacies must be at least 200 feet from places of worship and at least 500 feet from schools.
• Cities and villages can forego local retail pharmacies and consumer licenses in their communities with the passage of a local law that is subject to a permissible referendum.
• The municipalities can pass a local law by December 31, 2022 or within nine months of the law coming into force, but this can be re-registered at any time.
• One or more higher education research institutes selected by the State Department of Health will conduct a controlled study evaluating methods and technologies that can effectively and reliably identify marijuana driving.
• A report on the study must be submitted to the governor, lawmaker and ministry of health by December 31, 2022. The department is then empowered to issue regulations to approve and certify a test.
• Taxes on recreational marijuana are levied based on the number of milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the product.
• Marijuana foods are taxed at a rate of 3 cents per milligram of THC.
• Concentrates are taxed at eight tenths of a cent per milligram of THC.
• Cannabis flowers are taxed at half a cent per milligram of THC.
• A 13% excise tax is levied on cannabis, with portions going to communities where there is a retail pharmacy.
Distribution of funds
• Proceeds from legal adult marijuana will be reinvested in New York State communities, with portions going to education, the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund and the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund.
• Funding will also be made available for law enforcement training, low-cost loans and incubator programs for social justice applicants, as well as for implementing the provisions to delete the new law.
Home grown marijuana
• One person can grow up to six marijuana plants (consisting of three mature plants and three immature plants) in their home.
• A total of 12 cannabis plants can be cultivated per residence (consisting of six mature plants and six immature plants).
• The use of propane, butane, or other pressurized flammable gases when processing cannabis in dormitories is prohibited.
• Each person can have up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis in their person, and up to 5 pounds of cannabis in a dormitory that must be stored safely.