Governor Cuomo Flickr Photo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) legalizing adult-use cannabis, fulfilling a key component of his 2021 State of the State agenda. The bill signing comes after the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced this past Sunday, March 28, that an agreement had been reached on the legislation. The bill establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that covers medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp. The bill also expands New York State's existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs. The legislation provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market, and creates a social and economic equity program to assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement that want to participate in the industry.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs Legislation Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis
Establish the Office of Cannabis Management
The Office of Cannabis Management will be charged with enforcing a comprehensive regulatory framework governing medical, adult-use cannabinoid hemp. It will be governed by a five-member board, with three members appointed by the Governor and one appointment by each house. OCM will be an independent office operating as part of the New York State Liquor Authority.
The legislation will allow people with a larger list of medical conditions to access medical marijuana, increase the number of caregivers allowed per patient, and permit home cultivation of medical cannabis for patients.
The legislation will create a two-tier licensing structure that will allow for a large range of producers by separating those growers and processors from also owning retail stores. The legislation creates licenses for producers and distributors, among other entities, and the legislation will implement strict quality control, public health and consumer protections. A social and economic equity program will facilitate individuals disproportionally impacted by cannabis enforcement, including creating a goal of 50% of licenses to go to a minority or woman owned business enterprise, or distressed farmers or service-disabled veterans to encourage participation in the industry.
The legislation permits the sale of hemp flower in the cannabinoid hemp program, and allows for smokeable forms only when adult use retail stores are operational.
Adult-Use Cannabis Tax Revenue
All cannabis taxes will be deposited in the New York state cannabis revenue fund. Revenue covers reasonable costs to administer the program and implement the law. The remaining funding will be split three ways:
Cities, towns, and villages may opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021 or nine months after the effective date of the legislation. They cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.
The New York State Department of Health will work with institutions of higher education to conduct a controlled research study designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving. After completion of the research study, DOH may create and implement rules and regulations to approve and certify a test for the presence of cannabis in drivers.
Personal Possession and Home Cultivation
The following conditions apply to growing cannabis at home and personal possession of cannabis outside the home:
Criminal Justice and Record Expungement
The cannabis penalty framework will be restructured to avoid the criminalization seen in prohibition. Reduced penalties will be implemented for possession and sale.
Protections for the Use of Cannabis and Workplace Safety
Unlawful discrimination will be prohibited and workplace safety protections will be implemented.
Public Health and Education Campaign
OCM will establish a robust public health and education campaign and work with neighboring states and associations to coordinate actions and policies to protect regional health and safety.