A Historic Day: Legislature Passes Bill to Legalize Adult Use of Marijuana in NYS

Today, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed the landmark Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA, A. 1248A/S. 854A) to legalize the adult possession of cannabis in New York state.It’s a historic step in reforming our broken, racist cannabis prohibition model.

Over the last decades, New York has made progress toward more rational marijuana laws through the decriminalization of adult possession of small amounts of marijuana, repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, and enactment of a medical marijuana program, all steps that I advocated strongly, sponsored or co-sponsored, and voted for.

Now, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will take a giant step forward.It will create economic opportunities, including community reinvestment and social equity programs.As a result of MRTA’s passage, New York is projected to collect new annual State tax revenues of about $350 million, and to generate between 30,000 to 60,000 jobs. 

The MRTA will:

  • establish an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the adult use, medical use, and hemp programs; 
  • establish a licensing system for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market;
  • create a social and economic equity program to support communities disproportionately impacted by uneven enforcement of cannabis laws;
  • expand New York's existing medical marijuana program by increasing patient access to medical marijuana, opening up the list of conditions to establish eligibility for an individual with any condition certified by a practitioner, increasing the number of medical dispensaries and medical companies, and allowing home cultivation of medical cannabis (including for patients); and
  • provide for the automatic expungement or resentencing for anyone with a previous marijuana conviction that would now be legal under the law. 

Today marks a milestone on the road toward a more rational drug policy in New York.I am proud to have helped lead the fight in New York every step of the way.