Report: NY lawmakers reach deal on recreational pot

Stephanie Duprey
Updated: March 24, 2021 11:10 PM
Created: March 24, 2021 03:53 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A deal to legalize recreational cannabis in New York has been reached, that's according to Bloomberg.

David Holland is the executive director of Empire State Norml, which is a national organization for reform and marijuana laws. He says this has been in the works for too long.

"It's only 50 years overdue so to speak,” Holland said.

According to Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger (D, 28), the deal that legislative leaders brokered with Gov. Andrew Cuomo would tax recreational marijuana sales at 13%, with 9% going to the state and 4% to localities, and distributors collecting an excise tax of as much as 3 cents per milligram of THC.

Holland says seeing a bigger percent back to the community is a step in the right direction.

"Particularly the 4 cents [per dollar] going back to the municipalities is an increase where I think it only used to be 2 cents [per dollar] before, so that's an improvement," Holland said.

The deal would not reportedly alter the taxes imposed on medical marijuana sales. The governor's office estimates that legalizing recreational marijuana could produce up to $350 million a year in tax revenue once the program is fully implemented.

Dispensaries around the area say the medical cannabis industry would highly benefit if this bill is passed.

"Patients that haven't had access to that currently in the program are now going to be allowed for patients that have gotten the certification from their doctor that it's needed to treat a health and wellness condition,” SVP for Columbia Care Adam Gores said.

Local police departments say while they are ready to positively adapt to new laws put in place,  it is going to be a while before communities can adjust. 

"It's common to see people sitting in a parked car smoking marijuana, that’s daily, how many would be responsible and not drive their car probably not too many, we understand there are going to be some hiccups but this is what the people want and we have to deal with it when it comes,” Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode said.

Experts say while $350 million seems like a big chunk of change, when you think about the tax revenue coming from people who have employment and neighborhoods that can be revitalized with the 4% back, it could bring those millions to billions and that's the impact they hope to see through this legislation.

State Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D, 56), who represents the Rochester area and is co-chair of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus (BPHA)'s Marijuana Task Force, released the following statement on the deal:

“We are working hard to finalize the legalization of adult use recreational marijuana. We must remain focused on a deal that provides economic benefits to those most harmed by the War on Drugs. We will continue to advocate for legislation that prioritizes equity for Rochesterians.”


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