New York Senator Jeremy Cooney recently filed a weed bill that would include transgender and non-binary people in the state’s socio-economic equity program included in its marijuana laws., said Marijuana Moment.
The bill came after New York passed a law legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana, which includes a social and economic equity program that seeks to provide opportunities for individuals and communities disproportionately affected by the unequitable implementation of the marijuana prohibition laws.
Generally, the existing program is looking to dedicate 50% of the licenses granted by the state to the equity program. Eligible candidates include minorities, minority-owned or women-owned businesses (MWBEs), farmers, and veterans.
The Senate Bill 7517 titled “An act to amend the cannabis law, in relation to including gender equality in the social and economic equity plan of the New York state cannabis control board,” bill seeks to “include transgender and gender-nonbinary individuals in the social and economic equity plan giving them priority in licensing.”
While the goal of the current equity provision is noble, Cooney believes that the language used to express this “forces certain individuals from choosing between their gender identity and receiving priority for a license” as an “unintended consequence.”
This is because biologically born female individuals who transitioned or individuals who identify as non-binary might miss out on equity benefits if they do not put down their gender assigned at birth while filling out application forms.
The bill was filed earlier this month and is currently in Senate Committee. To pass, it will need to be heard on the Floor, passed the Senate and the Assembly, and signed by the Governor.
While Cooney’s bill still has a long way to go before reaching the Governor, the existing marijuana law in New York called the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) is in the process of being implemented. The MRTA was signed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The state is yet to see the opening of its very first recreational cannabis dispensary, which is expected to be on Native American territory as one tribe has opened its application in October. Another senator has also filed a bill for a provisional licensing category that could help farmers get started even before the rollout of the program.
Current Governor Kathy Hochul has expressed her intention to efficiently implement the law, starting with regulatory appointments. The Cannabis Control Board has also met, which is seen as a vital phase toward the implementation of the program.
The state of New York has been feeling pressure to have an adult-use recreational marijuana program thanks to its neighboring states’ step toward creating a fully legal marijuana market. New Jersey, was one of the latest states to have fully legalized cannabis.
Governor Hochul is optimistic about the effects of having a legal cannabis market in the state. She believes that it can help generate jobs. The state also expects to generate millions in tax revenues.
Meanwhile, New York has been making progress in some marijuana-related policies including drug testing for workers.