New York finally got off the pot this week and has officially legalized Cannabis for adult-use!

This means New Yorkers statewide can now legally carry up to three ounces of dried flower and up to 24 grams of concentrated Cannabis. This is another step towards legalization nationwide. New York also made an intentional effort to establish an equity plan for the industry directly towards past drug war victims and minorities as a first priority.

According to Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, the Democratic majority leader, who sponsored the bill. She stated on the floor of the lower chamber: “Equity is not a second thought, it’s the first one, and it needs to be, because the people who paid the price for this war on drugs have lost so much.”

This is a big step for the big apple and with Governor Cuomo’s signature today on the bill, it’s officially safe to possess Cannabis in the state! In fact, there will most likely be restrictions that come later, but as of right now it would be legal to consume Cannabis anywhere tobacco smoking is permitted. That means the sidewalks of New York are game… for now. Localities and the new Cannabis control agencies can create regulations that prohibit it… and they most likely will. Parks, beaches, boardwalks, and pedestrian plazas and playgrounds are off limits according to the new law.

New York Times Square

Consumption Clubs

Places to consume Cannabis will also be licensed and regulated as things progress, which opens up opportunities for a social Cannabis scene. More rules and regulations are guaranteed to come as well as the state forms these new agencies to govern the highly regulated market. 40% of the proceeds of the taxes that are collected in this landmark bill is dedicated towards minority communities that had disproportionate numbers of marijuana arrests. What exactly does this mean is anyone’s guess at this point.

Taxes collected go where?

In Colorado, part of the tax collected from the Cannabis excise tax is dedicated towards building new or remodeling existing schools. It will be interesting to see how New York uses the taxes to better these communities that they are talking about repairing.

Stop and smell the Cannabis!

One big thing Governor Cuomo understood was the “stop and frisk laws” that New York had for many years was disproportionately effecting communities of color and ruining people’s lives, so he made the effort to make small amounts of Cannabis in public view no longer a crime. We’ll back up here a minute and explain the public view situation because it’s important part of the trick. Not very long ago, NY police officers were allowed to simply assume or target anyone and demand that the citizen empty their pockets just on suspicion. This is prior to any arrest, this would allow them to escalate the charge once the Cannabis is in plain view. You don’t have to be handcuffed or in custody to have this happen, nor are you free to walk away.

Here’s how it’s illegal: New York decriminalized small amounts of Cannabis in 1977, so long that it is not in public view! That means once an officer makes someone empty their pockets and there is more than 25 grams in view, it’s now a crime. Pretty tricky huh? New York City police have had decades to abuse Cannabis users in the worst ways. Starting by targeting disadvantaged poor or people of color with these crimes of possession. These convictions created a population of drug war victims that have suffered; job losses, residential opportunities, and voting rights just to name a few.

apollo theater NYC

What does this mean for existing Cannabis business in NY?

There is much to be discussed as time goes by on how New York will embrace this new law. Consumers can expect a year before any adult-use retail stores open. In the meantime, medical Cannabis will see a boost in patients under this new law as well as more conditions are granted medical status. Also, vertically integrated medical Cannabis dispensaries will be allowed to remain to grow and sell for their patients, whereas new retail dispensaries will not have that function. This is disappointing for future retailers and could create much of a disadvantage to social justice equity licensees.  The state already has created a monopoly of a limited number of licensed growers with medical Cannabis thus far, so it should be interesting moving forward if the market will be less or more competitive for adult use Cannabis.

Grow your own!

One big advantage over the neighboring state of New Jersey, this new bill in New York allows residents to grow up to 6 plants! This is great news for patients and consumers that they can grow their own and get started with their own stash before retail stores open sometime in the next year. This is a step in the right direction and provides people with a way to propagate their own supply.

We Love NY!

Thank you, New York! You are now the 15th state to legalize Cannabis! It’s been a long road and hopefully this new chapter will help right the wrongs that have been done to the people in the past. Cannabis is now free to consume in New York starting today!

To learn more details legalization in New York state, check out Wikipedia’s page that breaks down the past and this new landmark bill.

Learn more about how you can be involved in changing the laws for the future of Cannabis legalization by visiting our favorite activist sites: Americans for Safe Access and NORML are a great place to start. Stay vigilant, know your rights and always be a Cannapolitan!

All photos credited and owned by Cannapolitan.