Consumers and interested business operators in New York are all wondering whether or not marijuana is legal in New York.
The short answer is “yes.”
But what does this mean for consumers and cannabis business operators interested in the state’s newly-formed recreational marijuana space?
This article will serve as a guide for consumers and business operators interested in adult-use marijuana regulation. Let’s go over what’s happening in New York now that New Yorkers can buy, possess, and sell marijuana.
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Marijuana is Legal in New York, Now What?
According to a statement given by Governor Cuomo, “Legalizing cannabis was the first step in this historic endeavor to right the wrongs of the past.”
Whether you’re a consumer or interested in operating a cannabis business in New York, you’re going to have to wait until 2022 to experience the state’s full-fledged recreational cannabis sector. But equally important to know is that medical cannabis is still legal, and New Yorkers 21 years of age or older are allowed to possess and consume recreational marijuana.
Cuomo’s Signature Effectively Changed New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) that legalized adult-use marijuana for New Yorkers on March 31, 2021. This expanded New York’s medical marijuana program, effectively adding to the list of medical conditions that qualify New Yorkers for medical marijuana.
At this point, the program does not allow cannabis flower. But this new update might lift flower prohibition.
Most importantly for consumers, possession is no longer a crime. Since legalization, personal possession of cannabis, up to a certain weight, is permitted. So for those who enjoy smoking a bit here and there – or a lot – the new New York weed laws aim to decriminalize possession and ensure that personal smoking and consumption are no longer criminal offenses.
How Much Can Consumers Possess?
The laws allow New Yorkers to possess as much as three ounces of cannabis or up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis. But just because consumers can hold ounces up to 3 ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use doesn’t mean they will.
The law now allows possession. With this being the law that was historically used to target people of color, it’s incredible to see this shift with legalization.
We no longer have to worry about people getting stopped by the police for smoking a joint. This legislation even makes public consumption legal in areas people smoke cigarettes.
People can also make their own concentrated cannabis if they decide to grow up to three mature cannabis plants and three immature cannabis plants as part of the home cultivation allocation.
That’s right. New Yorker natives are even allowed to grow several plants per household as part of home cultivation. While federal law doesn’t allow it, the state allows a certain number of plants per household.
So, if a local decides to grow and make concentrated cannabis, it’s legal at this point. However, once businesses begin operating, it’s likely that most consumers will search for a local dispensary.
Simply put, New York natives can now grow cannabis at home. Delivery services are allowed, and consumption lounges will be a part of New York’s cannabis legalization.
Let’s not forget that criminal records will get expunged. All in all, marijuana-related businesses and consumers have a lot to gain from this new law.
The Marijuana Regulation Mission in NY
With marijuana regulation in New York, the mission is to promote social equity. This is why the law will encourage social equity applicants to obtain 50% of the licenses.
Social equity applicants include New Yorkers who come from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, service-disabled veterans, women, and small distressed farmers.
Cannabis products will have a 13% sales tax placed on them. This includes 9% to the state and 4% to the local municipality. There will also be an excise tax aligned with how many milligrams of THC is in the marijuana products.
The new bill also created the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, along with a Cannabis Control Board. These two entities will be in charge of regulating the cannabis space in New York.
New York Office of Cannabis Management
The MRTA established the Office of Cannabis Management. This agency will implement a regulatory framework for the state’s cannabis and hemp space.
So far, the Governor estimates that the agency has taken in $83 million in tax revenue from retail throughout 2021, and he expects this to increase to $300 million by the time its provisions are fully implemented for adults interested in buying the drug in 2023.
OCM Website Launch
The Office of Cannabis Management launched its website in April 2021 to offer resources to consumers and business operators in the cannabis space. This website offers information on the regulatory structure of the Office of Cannabis Management, which, along with the Cannabis Control Board, will handle the licensure, production, distribution, sale, cultivation, and taxation of all adult-use and medicinal weed within the state.
Through this website, New York residents can find medicinal cannabis practitioners, caregivers, and IDs. But what’s more is the fact that retail businesses and other operations looking for licenses to participate in the state’s adult-use, medicinal, and cannabinoid hemp industries can find more information there.
New York Cannabis Control Board
New York’s Cannabis Control Board is still waiting to be formed. At this point, there’s a hunt underway for CCB members.
Once the board is ready, it will start to build out the details of the state’s cannabis space. But for now, we don’t have much to go on.
Here’s a quote from the Deputy Communications Director, Jason Gough:
“The administration is actively working to ensure the OCM and the Cannabis Control Board can begin implementing a safe, equitable, and transparent adult-use cannabis industry as soon as possible. The Governor is committed to appointing individuals with diverse experiences and subject matter expertise, who are representative of communities from across the state.”
Once established, the CCB will handle all areas regarding the state’s cannabis sector, including the packaging, marketing, production, and sale of marijuana.
Employers will also need to understand the legality of marijuana with the state. Recreational use is permitted, meaning the law allows consumers to use cannabis without issue. Gough touches upon this in the following statement:
“Once the Cannabis Control Board is in place, the Office will be officially formed and can begin promulgating regulations to implement the MRTA, including provisions outlining cannabis product requirements, ensuring industry access for small businesses and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and opportunities for legacy operators and people with past cannabis convictions.”
However, experts believe it may take up to two years to finalize the regulations created by the Board.
NY Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) Explained
Prohibiting marijuana in New York State has been ineffective, to say the least. Rather than ceasing marijuana use throughout the state, New Yorkers have continued to use marijuana despite its prohibition.
The illicit marijuana industry has thrived in New York under prohibition. But the hope is that with the MRTA, the state will have a profitable recreational cannabis space for New Yorkers who are 21 and older.
Over the years, the illegal nature of cannabis in New York State has hurt people. The growth of this illicit industry has resulted in disproportionately focused adverse impacts on communities of color, as well.
Through the MRTA, the goal is to address the negative impacts of the failed former policy. This act will create a responsible and well-regulated cannabis industry by encouraging licenses and legal dispensary operations.
The industry will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue that will not only strengthen the New York State economy, but support communities that have felt the most significant effects of marijuana prohibition.
MRTA Regulatory Implementations
The taxation act MRTA will implement and legalize the production, use, and distribution of marijuana.
While it’s not federal law, the bill takes cannabis plants and products out of the New York Controlled Substances Act and permits the regulation of marijuana with supervision from the Liquor Authority of New York State.
With this legislation, the distribution and use of cannabis and cannabis products will be regulated in a way that’s comparable to the way tobacco and alcohol are regulated.
Legislative Goals of MRTA Summarized
Here’s a list of what this legislation aims to achieve:
- Establish the Office of Cannabis Management
- Expand New York’s Existing Medical Program
- Establish a Licensing System
- Create a Social & Economic Equity Program that Encourages Individuals Disproportionately Impacted by Cannabis Enforcement to Participate in Industry
- Tax Collection Projected to Reach or Exceed $350 Million Annually & Potentially Create 30,000 to 60,000 Jobs
Weed Is Legal in New York: What an Opportunity!
If you currently operate a cannabusiness in New York or are considering opening one now that legalization has happened, now is the time to focus. The opportunities are seemingly endless, and as the consumer base grows throughout the state, we can expect legalization to continue encouraging this market to expand.
Whether consumers are smoking cannabis for health purposes or recreationally, dispensaries can expect the formerly illegal drug to bring in the big bucks. Scaling these operations will become even easier once federal legalization passes.
But for now, dispensaries will have to focus on the local market. Scaling in conjunction with state laws is essential, and once the market becomes more mature, we can expect its health to expand.
Since adults no longer need to worry about penalties for using this drug, sales are increasing. And as sales increase, we can expect the health of this market to continue.
Scale Your New York Cannabusiness Now
The opportunities are here, and we’re ready to help. If you’re interested in scaling your New York marijuana business to obtain a larger share of the market, Northstar is here to lead the way!
Contact us now to find out how financial services will expand your operation’s success in this budding market. Our experts are here and ready to help!