New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law Wednesday legalizing the adult use of marijuana, making it the fifteenth state to fully legalize the drug.
The bill passed Tuesday by wide margins in both the state senate, by a 40 to 23 vote, and the state assembly, with 100 votes in favor to just 49 against in a late-night session. Cuomo, the subject of an impeachment investigation over sexual harassment claims, said that this legislation was one of his top priorities this year, and called it “a historic day in New York—one that rights the wrongs of the past.”
The law establishes an Office of Cannabis Management, which will oversee regulations regarding marijuana, permits adults 21 years and older to possess and recreationally use up to three ounces of marijuana, and expunges previous marijuana convictions that would now be legal under the new law. Workplaces would be prohibited from discriminating against an employee who uses marijuana on their own time, and the law sets up licenses for producers and distributors.
It is estimated that legal cannabis sales will produce $350 million in taxes annually. The law creates a cannabis revenue fund which will be used to administer the program and implement the law. Funds left over after those expenses will be divided three ways, with 40 percent to education, 40 percent to the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, and 20 percent to the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund.
The legislation’s sponsor, senator Liz Krueger, said that her goal “has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities.”