Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued the full text of revisions to his cannabis legalization proposal to set up a comprehensive adult-use program in New York.
The amendments describe the use of delivery services, the refinement of criminal charges, and the allocation of $100 million in Social Equity funding.
Cannabis legalization is projected to bring a significant contribution to help restore New York’s economy due to the damaging impact of the pandemic. It can potentially generate over 60,000 new jobs and raise economic growth by $3.5 billion, increasing an estimated tax revenue of $350 million if implemented.
The proposal seeks to authorize the use of delivery services that will provide employment opportunities for all workforce levels. Since the basis of the Governor’s plan is social and economic equity, delivery services provide a low-cost entry point into the industry.
Additionally, more New Yorkers can gain access to this new industry and participate as it develops and grows. Local governments will have the chance to stay out of delivery services under their area.
On the other hand, the refinement of criminal charges will be introduced to further reduce the effects on populations severely affected by the drug war as it applies to the improper selling of cannabis.
As per the revised proposal of the Governor, the specific penalties are lowered. For instance, selling cannabis to people under 21 years old will have a class A misdemeanor. Then, selling over 16 ounces will have a class E felony, while selling over 64 ounces will have a class D felony.
The proposal represents national guidelines and current best practices. It aimed to encourage responsible use, restricting the selling of cannabis products, and implementing strict health and safety regulations.
When presenting the revisions, Governor Cuomo indicated that he views the budget system as the path to enforce the legislative changes.
“It is a controversial topic. It’s a controversial and difficult vote. I get it. I believe if we don’t have it done by the budget, we’re not going to get it done. And I think it would be a failure if we don’t get it done this year and I think that would be a mistake,” Cuomo said.
He also added, “We’re setting up a new bill that reflects the conversations we’ve had, but I’m hopeful that we can come to an agreement and we can get it done. But I believe—because I’ve seen this movie before—if we don’t get it done by April 1, we won’t get it done.”
For the third time, Governor Cuomo has presented in his budget plan a proposal for legalization. Negotiations with the legislature have failed in the past due to disputes over some factors, such as the market tax system and financing for social equity projects.
It continues to be regarded though, whether these revisions would match the requirements of legislative representatives who have fought against the original plan from Cuomo.
There is increasing awareness in New York that legalization is inevitable, regardless of which way the legislature moves on this issue.