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New York set to legalise recreational cannabis



New York finally looks poised to legalise recreational cannabis use.
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After years of false starts and failed efforts, New York finally looks poised to legalise recreational cannabis use.

State senators reportedly agreed a deal over the weekend which will allow adults over the age of 21 to purchase cannabis in a regulated market.

The deal, which is yet to be formally ratified, would also allow individuals to group up to six plants for personal use.

It is being heralded as a huge breakthrough for the cannabis sector and the latest step in America’s long move towards nationwide reform.

If the deal is passed – which looks certain given the Democrats’ majority in the state legislature – New York will join 14 other states to have legalised cannabis use.

According to reports, a state-wide nice percent sales tax would be imposed, as well as addition four percent levy split between government at local and county level.

Permit-regulated clubs where cannabis use would be allowed as long as alcohol is not sold would be set up under the proposals, according to leaked documents seen by the New York Times. Individual local government areas would be able to opt out of the arrangements.

The deal will also see the state go much further on previous attempts to expunge cannabis-related criminal records.

Campaigners and legal reformers have long argued that drug policies have led to racially disproportionate policing which is more likely to saddle black and hispanic Americans with records for minor offences.

While the law could be brought to a vote in the state legislature as early as Tuesday, New Yorkers may have to wait a while yet until dispensaries can legally operate.

According to the Associated Press, Crystal Peoples-Stokes, assembly majority leader, said on March 26 that it “could take 18 months to two years for sales to start”.

The assemblywoman told the New York Times that “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”.

Estimates as to how much tax revenue could eventually be raised vary but $350m per year is one widely quoted forecast.
The deal comes at a politically uncertain time for the state which is dealing with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and an alleged sexual harassment scandal involving Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The Governor, who is supportive of efforts to reform the state’s drug laws, is facing calls from within in his own party to resign over several claims of inappropriate behaviour towards female colleagues. He denies wrongdoing.