Inside the deal to legalize marijuana in New York

Marijuana legalization in NY, NJ

GRAND CONCOURSE, the Bronx — The political bickering is finally over and the deal is nearly done.

Adult New Yorkers should be able to legally smoke marijuana within the next week.

“It’ll take effect immediately that marijuana, as a product, will be a legal product,” said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who has led the legalization effort in the legislature for years.

While final details are being ironed out Thursday, here’s what we know so far: Marijuana would be legalized for adults over 21; personal possession would be allowed of up to three ounces; New Yorkers would be able to grow their own plants at home.

Peoples-Stokes says the government will get to regulating as soon as it’s official.

“Right away, the governor’s office will begin setting up a brand new agency called the Office of Cannabis Management.”

The agency will establish guidelines and issue licenses for marijuana farming, processing, distribution, dispensaries and even retail consumption sites.

They’ll also oversee tax revenue.

“Percentages of it will be invested into the communities that have been harmed,” added Peoples-Stokes.

Eli Northup is an attorney with the Bronx Defenders. He hopes the deal will also include a provision to automatically wipe out past marijuana convictions from criminal records.

“Marijuana convictions can affect people in all these different ways outside of the criminal context, in the child welfare system, when you’re applying for housing, education, there’s the immigration system,” he said.

The governor’s office estimates marijuana sales could bring the state $350 million a year in tax revenue.

Pew Charitable Trust researcher Adam Levin is preaching caution.

“It’s difficult to forecast how much revenue states are going to taken in from recreational marijuana, especially when its being introduced for the first time.”

And for anyone still opposed to legalization, the under fire Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a message.

“It’s in New Jersey, it’s in Massachusetts,” he said Thursday. “To say we’re going to stop it is not an option, it is here. The only question is, do we regulate it here? Do we gather the revenue here? Or do we have people driving to New Jersey, which is right there?”

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