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Cannabis is Officially Legal in New York

March 31, 2021

Adult-use cannabis is officially legal in the state of New York after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Wednesday, March 31. The bill creates automatic expungement of marijuana convictions that would now be legal — prompting Cuomo to call it a “historic day.” 

Advocates say that legal cannabis in New York will help to correct an unjust system that disproportionately targets marginalized communities, create thousands of jobs, and reinvest in communities that have been historically under served. 

Primary Components of New York Cannabis Legalization Bill 

Important components of the 128-page New York cannabis legalization bill include: 

  • Adults 21 and older can possess and purchase cannabis products from licensed retailers. 
  • There will be no penalty for public possession of up to three ounces of cannabis or private possession of up to five pounds, effective immediately. 
  • Adults can cultivate up to 6 plants for personal use, with no more than 12 plants being grown in any home. 
  • Those with prior marijuana-related convictions will have their records automatically expunged. 
  • Social consumption sites and delivery services will be permitted. 
  • Individual jurisdictions will hold the right to opt out of allowing retailers and/or social consumption sites. 
  • A new Office of Cannabis Management will be responsible for regulating the recreational cannabis market. 

The Future of Cannabis

With New York becoming the 16th state to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis, the move marks a momentous moment for the cannabis industry as a whole, especially as neighboring northeastern states attempt to keep pace in legalization proceedings. 

As for New York itself, dispensaries are expected to be launched across the state some time in 2022. Although many advocates say that legalization was long overdue after missing opportunities in both 2019 and 2020, the state met its goal of legalizing cannabis by April 2021 — signifying one of the most important cannabis reform initiatives in the history of the United States.  

Contributed by Jack Berning