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New York may be one step closer to marijuana legalization.
According to Bloomberg, state lawmakers have reached an agreement to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana and decriminalize cannabis possession for adults aged 21 and older. The deal, which was brokered between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, reportedly includes a 13 percent sales tax on cannabis products, 9 percent of which will benefit the state, the rest going to local governments.
The governor’s office reportedly estimates the legislation could rake in about $350 million a year once it’s signed into law. The bill would also create a state regulatory agency that will license cannabis growers and retailers.
New York lawmakers are expected to vote next week on the bill, which will likely take effect in 2022. If the legislation is approved, the state will become the 15th in America to legalize recreational marijuana use. On Wednesday, Cuomo told reporters cannabis legalization was among his top executive priorities for the state’s upcoming budget, which is due April 1.
“We’ve been trying to legalize cannabis for three years. I’ve failed about every year. We’re close, but we’ve been close three times before,” Cuomo told reporters Wednesday. “We have passed the point of legalized cannabis. It’s in New Jersey. It’s in Massachusetts. To say we’re going to stop it is not an option; it’s already here. … I believe New York is the progressive capital of the nation—not just because we say it is but because we perform that way. And legalizing cannabis is this year’s priority to be the progressive capital of the nation. We won’t be the first, but our program will be the best.”
Cuomo’s announcement comes as he faces sexual misconduct allegations from at least eight women. Lawmakers including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerrold Nadler have called for the governor’s resignation. Cuomo has denied the allegations and insists he will not bow to “cancel culture.”
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