New York City, US, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- New York on Tuesday followed in the footsteps of 14 other US states in legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana use for adults.
The bill finally got the green light after last week when the Democrats, who dominate the Senate and the Assembly, reached an agreement with Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Under the legislation, possession of up to 3 ounces (85 grams) of marijuana will be legal for those over 21 years of age.
“New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public,” he added.
The legislation could generate $350 million in annual revenue and part of those funds should be invested in minority communities affected by the severe sentences imposed for possession of this drug.
Those previously convicted of possessing marijuana now under the legal limit will automatically be subject to expungement and resentencing.
The new industry is also expected to create between 30,000-60,000 jobs, according to the media.
The project, which now requires Cuomo’s signature, is estimated to take two years to be fully implemented and will impose 9 percent tax that will go to the state and another 4 percent to the local government.
State Senator Liz Krueger, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement that the law will “end the failed policies of marijuana prohibition in our state, and begin the process of building a fair and inclusive legal market for adult-use cannabis.”
“New York’s program will not just talk the talk on racial justice, it will walk the walk: ending the racially disparate enforcement that was endemic to prohibition, automatically expunging the records of those who were caught up in the so-called ‘War on Drugs,’ and channeling 40 percent of the revenue back into the most hard-hit communities,” she said.
“It also puts 20 percent of the revenue into drug treatment and education, and 40 percent into our public schools.”
During the pre-approval debate Republicans and some Democrats expressed concern that the wrong message would being sent to children and over how police will be able to determine if a driver is high. EFE-EPA