New York isn’t give up on legalizing cannabis.
After dropping the issue last month in the state’s budget, a New York State Senate bill is looking at recreational marijuana as a potential tax revenue stream.
Although the bill hasn’t been introduced yet, it would tax, regulate, create recreational use licenses and regulate hemp and CBD products, while expanding medical marijuana use.
Senator Liz Krueger (D) said there is a real push this time around to get the legislation passed before the spring session ends.
She also told reporters that the state would remove criminal charges for minor pot infractions. If the law passes, about 300,000 New Yorkers could have records sealed or expunged.
Buffalo Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a long-time supporter of legal marijuana, said in a statement the bill would give “significant dedicated investment in communities most harmed by marijuana prohibition” while “addressing past criminal convictions.”
Since 1977, cannabis has been decriminalized in New York. Possession still generates a $100 fine for 25 grams or less, but if you light up in public it’s a misdemeanor crime. Civil rights advocates say this scheme has caused discrimination with unfair arrests for minorities.
Political opponents say they won’t support the idea until clear way to test impairment with accurate breathalyzers.
The bill is expected to be introduced early in the week of May 20.
With a population of nearly 20 million in New York State, this could open up another big chunk of the market for the cannabis industry.