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Fate of Marijuana Decriminalization In New York Remains Unclear, Even as Gov. Cuomo Releases Plan


While last year, New York did decriminalize the possession of certain small amounts of marijuana and launched a process to expunge the records of many who have been convicted of low-level possession crimes, the law still left a number of individuals targeted for arrests. Specifically, Blacks and Latinos continue to be arrested and sent to prison for low level marijuana arrests than whites. These convictions also continue to affect things such as child custody, deportation, and the ability to get a job, which makes the issue still very urgent for many.

Still, while disagreements over revenue and reparations have historically held up legalizing/decriminalizing recreational marijuana in New York, Governor Cuomo just released changes to the budget proposal that include a plan to officially legalize the substance. Senate Democrats are also expected to soon release their own legalization bill as well.

What Does Cuomo’s New Pending Legislation Do?

Cuomo’s proposal – which would legalize adult-use of marijuana as part of the proposed budget for the 2021 fiscal year – is ambitious. Called the “Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act” (CRTA), it not only includes a six-tiered licensing scheme for cultivating, processing, distributing, selling, consuming, etc. marijuana in New York, but also mandating that priority for licenses be given to those who qualify as disadvantaged farmers, women-owned businesses, or social equity applications and in conjunction with a plan that positively impacts areas that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Also created under the proposal would be the Office of Cannabis Management, which would exercise a significant amount of control over the management of legalized marijuana in New York and would be managed not only by an executive director, but also a board of five appointed by the governor.

Perhaps of even greater importance to a number of New Yorkers is the fact that the CRTA would also make several noteworthy changes to New York’s medical marijuana regulations by permitting certified patients to grow their own marijuana for medical use, more than 10 medical marijuana providers in the state, hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities to register to administer medical marijuana to certified patients under their care, and certain licensees to conduct research on additional medical uses of marijuana as well.

This is very important, as, according to reports, future business opportunity in New York’s medical marijuana program depends upon adult-use legalization, which of course depends upon the state making it legal for patients to have access to a greater number of dispensaries.

If You’ve Been Targeted for A Drug Arrest, Contact Our New York Defense Attorneys

Until any of these laws are made official, as noted by reports, minorities continue to be targeted by law enforcement for arrests. If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact our New York criminal defense attorneys at the office of Phillip J. Murphy for a free consultation to find out how we can help.




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Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney At Law is located in New City, New York and serves clients in and around New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Contact our experienced criminal defense law firm.
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