According to Marijuana Movement, “New York lawmakers have reached a tentative deal on a marijuana legalization bill, with details now circulating.”
This is the big news that a lot of people have been awaiting, even though the bill itself has not been officially voted upon or released.
Next, the voting on the bill will commence, which sounds like it could then be expedited in order to get things rolling.
Here’s the drill (synopsis):
As early as December of 2022, anyone 21 years and older would be able to purchase recreational marijuana at a dispensary. People would be able to smoke at “social consumption sites” including reefer cafés. Licenses for distribution and retail would be doled out, with social equity in mind. A little over a year’s time after the launch, adults would be able to grow a limited number of plants at their own households – all of this would be regulated by a New York State Cannabis Control Board. Cannabis would be taxed at 9%, with an additional four percent local tax. A sliding THC tax would be imposed on flowers, concentrate, and edibles, depending on the nature of the product. The proceeds generated from the sales would be directed towards running the program – after that 40% would be allocated to a community reinvestment fund, 40% to state’s public schools, and 20% to fund drug treatment facilities and public education programs. The state Health Department would be responsible for coming up with a “potential” device that would help law enforcement to determine of someone is impaired from marijuana (that could include smelling the odor, although that alone would not warrant a search of a vehicle). An offender would be sited with a violation, not a misdemeanor. The state’s existing medical cannabis program would make it easier for people with conditions to access products. And finally, according to Marijuana Movement, existing medical cannabis dispensaries would be able to open 4 additional shops (50% in underserved communities), and two adult-use retail locations.
I spoke to Penelope Hamilton-Crescibene, executive director of WNY NORML, who was cautiously optimistic about the “news.” Although she started off on the “medical side” of the issue (she began as a patient), she eventually got involved with the social justice side of things. “It’s been a long haul for so many people fighting for reform,” she told me. “People are still serving time for something that others are using for medical purposes… the irony!”
Penelope told me that as the rumors are flying and everyone is wondering, she and her team are waiting patiently by, to go through the bill line by line. “It’s not over yet. Are we encouraged? Absolutely! The bill is wide and encompassing, addressing the hemp farmers, the medical patients, critical justice reform, equity, etc.”
From the way it sounds, advocates are pleasantly surprised that there is a limited household home grown element in this “still rumored” bill.
I asked Penelope about the excitement level at her camp, and she told me that people must know that it has not been voted on yet – therefore, they should be reaching out to their public officials to ensure that everything that they have been fighting for is on the table. While there will be plenty of “back-and-forths,” it looks as if this potential bill is headed in the right direction.
Lead image: Photo by Add Weed