New York lawmakers, governor agree on recreational cannabis legalization bill

New York is poised to legalize a nearly $2.5 billion-a-year recreational cannabis market after legislative leaders on Wednesday agreed on the program’s framework with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Retail sales could begin as soon as a year after the legislation is enacted.

The legalization bill is expected to be considered as soon as next week by the state Legislature, according to multiple media reports.

Cuomo would be expected to sign the bill once it passes.

Marijuana Business Daily projects that a recreational marijuana market in New York eventually would become the largest on the East Coast, generating $2.3 billion in annual sales by its fourth year.

New York would become the 17th state in the country to legalize adult use, unless another state enacts legislation first.

Legalization would create tens of thousands of new jobs in New York, which faces a multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

The measure would provide huge business opportunities for cultivation- and processing-equipment makers, packaging companies, attorneys and other ancillary services.

“It is my understanding that the three-way agreement has been reached and that bill drafting is in the process of finishing a bill that we all have said we support,” state Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger told Bloomberg Government on Wednesday.

Cuomo has been pushing to legalize recreational marijuana for a couple of years, but the pressure to do so heightened when voters in neighboring New Jersey approved adult-use legalization at the Nov. 3 ballot box.

A copy of the New York measure wasn’t immediately available.

But the bill reportedly includes provisions to strengthen the medical marijuana market in advance of an adult-use launch.

Here are some key points, according to Bloomberg:

  • The state’s 10 existing medical marijuana operators would be able to double the number of MMJ dispensaries from four to eight each, as long as two were in underserved areas. They also could operate two adult-use stores.
  • Cannabis products would be taxed at 13%, 9% of which would go to state coffers and 4% to localities.
  • A wholesale tax would be imposed based on product potency, reaching as high as 3 cents per milligram of THC.

New Jersey lawmakers in February agreed on a measure to implement that state’s nearly $1 billion market, with a sales launch expected before year-end.

Virginia lawmakers also agreed on a legalization bill in February, but many of the measure’s provisions must be reenacted next year.

Jeff Smith can be reached at [email protected].

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