New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

New York State lawmakers have passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana for adults, according to Patch.com. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill, known as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, into law yesterday. New York is now the 15th state nationwide to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

“This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said.

Under the new law, New York residents who are 21 and older are allowed to possess three ounces of marijuana in public spaces. If they have marijuana at home, they must have it hidden out of sight of children.

Criminal justice reform advocates are also optimistic about the law aiding many members of underrepresented communities who had previously been jailed for marijuana offenses at disproportionate rates, according to NBC News. The state will erase the criminal records of people who were convicted of cannabis-related crimes in the past, and there will no longer be arrests made for anyone who possesses up to three ounces of marijuana.

Some local lawmakers also applauded the move since it includes giving 40 percent of state revenue from cannabis sales to local public schools. In addition, 20 percent will go toward education and drug treatment programs.