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New York Lawmakers Push to Legalize Before Session Closes

New York lawmakers are crafting new legislation aimed at major cannabis policy reforms now that the governor’s plan to legalize via the state budget has been rejected.

Full story after the jump.

With about a month left in its legislative session, New York lawmakers are introducing measures to legalize recreational cannabis and expand the state’s medical cannabis program, the Times Union reports. Details of the recreational proposal are scant but Democratic Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes said the measure would mirror the proposal outlined in the governor’s budget proposal.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal estimated that cannabis-derived taxes would reach $300 million in the state and included social equity provisions but, at that time, legislative leaders said the home-growing provisions would need to be pulled from the proposal to gain support. In March, legalization was pulled entirely from the budget plan after Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, said he preferred the legislature pass a stand-alone cannabis bill rather than use the budget as a vehicle for legalization.

The medical cannabis reform bill would create one regulatory body to oversee the medical cannabis and hemp industries, along with a retail industry once a legalization law is finally approved. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins said she supports the expansion but hopes the bill includes expungement language for low-level cannabis crimes.

“It is my hope that this legislation will be approved by the Legislature, and there will not be a need to take up separate legislation that updates the medical marijuana program and regulates hemp/CBD.” – Peoples-Stokes in a statement to the Times Union

The medical cannabis expansion bill is expected to get a vote in front of the Health Committee next week. The recreational bill has yet to be formally introduced.

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