On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated, "Tonight, the New York State Legislature took the first step in a major leap forward for the Empire State by passing legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis. I thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and the many legislators who worked tirelessly on this issue for securing passage of this historic legislation.
"For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and, after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public.
"New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy. I look forward to signing this legislation into law."
The legislation will allow for the adult use of cannabis for those 21 years of age and older, and provide for the possession of three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis. It removes cannabis from the list of controlled substances.
Heastie said, “Passage of this bill will mean not just legalizing marijuana, but investing in education and our communities, and bring to an end decades of disproportionately targeting people of color under state and federal drug laws. The Assembly majority knew it was important to do this the right way – in a way that would include those targeted and frequently excluded from the process. Now, this legal industry will create jobs across our state, including for those who have had their lives upended by years of unjust drug laws.”
Peoples-Stokes said, “I am proud to have fought so long for this legislation and to finally see it pass. We are providing marijuana justice by ensuring investment into the lives and communities of those who suffered for generations as a result of mass incarceration. The results will be transformative for people across New York state – it will create economic and research opportunities, jobs across a wide variety of sectors, and a safe and reliable product.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “The legalization of marijuana is a racial and criminal justice imperative, and today’s vote is a critical step towards a fairer and more just system. For too long, people of color have been disproportionately impacted by an outdated and shortsighted marijuana prohibition, and it’s past time we right this wrong. We must also engineer an economy that will provide a much-needed boost to communities devastated by the war on drugs and COVID-19, and I am hopeful this will help to achieve that for New Yorkers.”
James has also advocated for expunging the records of those who have been arrested, detained or convicted of marijuana-related possession.
Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said, “This deal legalizing marijuana is the result of closed-door discussions between leaders of one political party and a governor who is engulfed in scandal. The outcome of these partisan negotiations is a deeply flawed piece of legislation that will hurt the health and safety of New Yorkers.
“This backroom deal rejected input from key stakeholders, necessary to address the many flaws in this legislation. The majority ignored our law enforcement officers and district attorneys, who have raised serious concerns about the impact this legislation will have on our communities. Further, workplace safety concerns were largely disregarded, putting people at risk and making New York more hostile for businesses. And most importantly, the concerns expressed by public health officials statewide went ignored.
“During the health crisis of our lifetime, we should know better than to dismiss the concerns of our medical experts. I cannot support this deeply flawed legislation due to the way it was developed, and the negative impact it will have on the health and safety of New Yorkers.”