In 14 of the 50 states in the United States of America, cannabis has been legalized. New York will be the fifteenth. The government expects to generate tax revenues in the millions. The main reason legalization is necessary is not clear.
New York State legislators have agreed that marijuana can be legally sold. Adults aged 21 and over can now purchase cannabis for recreational purposes, and possess up to 85g.
Licenses will be issued to allow the delivery of the drug directly to the customer. Residents will also be permitted to possess up to three mature plants and three immature plants to their personal use.
A long-running dispute predated the agreement between Governor Andrew Cuomo, and members of Parliament. In the coming days, a corresponding law could be passed. New York, with its nearly 20 million residents, including the metropolitan area of the same name, would be the fifteenth state in the United States to allow free marijuana use.
Black people arrested disproportionately
However, another large reason for legalization is to fight structural racism. The previous New York legislation on cannabis discriminated against people of color, black people in particular. Despite marijuana use being more evenly distributed by race, it was much more common for black people to be arrested in connection with marijuana crimes.
Chair of the Senate Finance Committee Liz Krueger stated that it was a major drag on communities of colour. Their goal is to ensure that they are compensated with the economic benefits of legalization.
It is not only the black community they want to benefit. To encourage veterans with disabilities, smallholders, minorities, women and veterans with disabilities to enter the cannabis industry, loans and other support are offered. Legalization advocates claim that this could lead to thousands of new jobs.
Millions worth of additional tax income
The government will be closely monitoring the potential future taxes on cannabis. The government estimates that there could be a market within the next few years which would generate $350 million in additional tax revenue each year.
The state plans to impose a nine percent sales tax, along with a four percent share by counties and municipalities. There is also a tax based on the THC content. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis and the chemical that produces the high.