Just under two months ago, New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the state with legislation that spans more than 170 pages.
But the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act” (S845A), as it formally is known, is less cumbersome to decipher in a bullet-point synopsis provided by the office of state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, a supporter of legalization.
The synopsis, which follows, lays out significant points of the law, which is to take full effect in January, 2022.
Governing office, boards
• The law provides for the establishment of the Office of Cannabis Management along with a governing board and advisory board. The governing board will consist of five members, three directly appointed by the governor and one each by the state Senate and Assembly.
The board will be responsible for establishing social and economic equity plans to make sure a certain percentage of licenses for selling cannibas go toward communities impacted by the war on drugs, distressed farmers and service-disabled veterans.
• The Office of Cannabis Management will review and process applications for cannabis licenses and create a public health campaign.
Specifics, local opt-outs
• New Yorkers must be 21 or older to purchase and consume recreational marijuana.
• Retail dispensaries must be at least 200 feet away from houses of worship and at least 500 feet from schools.
• Cities, towns and villages will be able to opt out of having retail dispensaries and on-site consumption licenses within their municipalities with the adoption of a local law, which would be subject to a permissive referendum.
• Municipalities will be able to adopt a local law to opt out by Dec. 31, 2022, or within nine months of the bill becoming law, but can opt back in at any time.
• One or more higher education research institutions selected by the state Department of Health will conduct a controlled study evaluating methods and technologies designed to effectively and reliably detect marijuana-impaired driving.
• A report on the study must be sent to the governor, the Legislature and the Department of Health by Dec. 31, 2022. The department then will be authorized to issue regulations to approve and certify a test.
• Taxes will be placed on recreational marijuana based on the number if milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the product.
• Marijuana edibles will be taxed at a rate of 3 cents per milligram of THC.
• Concentrates will be taxed at eight-tenths of 1 cent per milligram of THC.
• Cannabis flower will be taxed at rate of half a cent per milligram of THC.
• There will be a 13% excise tax on cannabis, with portions going to municipalities that host a retail dispensary.
• Revenue from legal adult-use marijuana is to 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 also is to be provided for law enforcement training, low-cost loans and incubator programs for social equity applicants, and implementation of the new law’s expungement provisions.
• A person may cultivate up to six total marijuana plants (consisting of three mature plants and three immature plants) at their home.
• A total of 12 cannabis plants may be cultivated per residence (consisting of six mature plants and six immature plants).
• Utilizing propane, butane or other flammable compressed gases in the processing of cannabis at residences is prohibited.
• Any person is allowed to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis on their person, and up to 5 pounds of cannabis a residence, which must be safely stored.