New York officially legalized cannabis on Wednesday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that will regulate recreational marijuana sales for adults and expunge the records of residents previously convicted of possession.
The long-stalled bill, which was agreed to last Thursday and finally approved Tuesday, is set to create one of the largest legal marijuana markets in the United States.
Officials believe that legalization will lead to as many as 60,000 new jobs and generate $350 million in revenue for the state.
“This is a historic day in New York — one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said in a statement, reports NY Daily News.
“I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis,” the governor added.
Under the new law, adults over 21 will also be allowed to grow marijuana at home. It will still require some time before legal sales begin or growing plants are allowed while the state forms the Office of Cannabis Management and finalizes rules or regulations, which could begin in late 2022 or early 2023.
However, the expungement and resentencing of anyone previously convicted of possessing marijuana under the current legal limit will automatically begin.
Effective immediately, New Yorkers will be able to legally possess under 3 ounces of cannabis and its consumption is allowed in public wherever tobacco smoking is allowed.
Recreational marijuana has been legalized in 14 states and three territories of the U.S., according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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