New York lawmakers have amended the state’s recreational cannabis bill in an effort to make it more palatable to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Buffalo News reports. The amendments include raising taxes, lowering possession limits, and expunging records for low-level cannabis-related crimes.
The original version of the bill would have allowed individuals to possess up to 2 pounds of cannabis, which has been reduced to 3 ounces. If approved, the limits would still be among the highest among legal states.
The tax rate for flower would be raised from 62 cents per gram to $1 per gram, with tax rates for trim and leaves jumping from 10 cents per gram to 25 cents per gram. The amendments make no changes to the sales or excise tax rates in the original measure.
Individuals with low-level cannabis convictions would be able to get those convictions expunged, instead of sealed as initially called for in the introduced legislation, and all records associated with the charges would be destroyed.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes called the economic and social justice parts of the bill “really huge.”
“At the end of the day, the most important piece to me is expunging people’s records, to give people a chance to survive in America.” – Peoples-Stokes, to the Buffalo News
The measure also expands the definition for social-equity applicants from those convicted of cannabis crimes to individuals with “a parent, guardian, child, spouse, or dependent, or was a dependent of an individual” who was convicted of a cannabis-related crime.
Additionally, the new version of the bill includes $3 million over three years to train law enforcement officers to identify people driving while impaired by drugs. The bill would also allow the governor to appoint the head of the Office of Cannabis Management.
Sen. Liz Krueger, the Democratic sponsor of the bill in the Senate, admitted that she still doesn’t have enough votes in the chamber “unless the Assembly passes it first and the governor comes out in full-throated support.”
New York’s legislative session ends June 19.
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