New York State lawmakers have agreed a deal to legalise recreational marijuana.
The deal was agreed by lawmakers in Albany and Governor Andrew Cuomo, opening the door to the potential multi-billion dollar industry operating in the state.
The legislation would allow for residents aged 21 and over to buy up to three ounces of the drug and grow up to six plants for personal use.
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It follows several previous failed attempts to legalise recreational marijuana use in New York, which a recent Siena College poll indicated that nearly 60% of voters in the state approve of.
Officials also hope it will help put a stop to a long-running pattern of racially disproportionate policing and criminal prosecution against Black and Hispanic people relating to marijuana drug charges. The legal proposal also outlines that millions of dollars in tax revenue the industry generates will be reinvested into marginalised communities, and a significant chunk of business licenses are to be reserved for minority business owners.
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A recent estimate from the governor’s office forecast that legalising cannabis could generate around $350 million a year in tax revenue, once the industry is fully up and running.
Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat who has backed the legalisation effort for years, said: “A percentage of revenue that is raised will get invested into the communities where the people who suffered mass incarceration come from and still live in many cases. For me this is a lot more than about raising revenue: It’s about investing in the lives of the people that have been damaged.”
The language of the law is still being finalised, but it could pass next week as part of the state budget which is due on April 1.
If approved, it is expected to take more than a year for the first sales of legal marijuana, following the writing of complex rules and regulations to control the market, and other surrounding administration.
[Via: New York Times]
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Features Editor, follow him on Twitter