Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) announced that she helped pass legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana for all New Yorkers age 21 and older (A.1248-A). Woerner noted that the legislation takes a smart, cautious approach to legalization that will launch a new legal marijuana industry and provide economic opportunity for farmers and other entrepreneurs.
“As a representative, it’s my duty to advocate for legislation that reflects the needs and interests of our communities,” said Woerner. “Over the last three years, a majority of people responding to my annual constituent survey have supported the legalization of adult-use marijuana as a way to create jobs and economic opportunities, particularly in the agricultural sector. It has been estimated that the illegal market for marijuana in New York State is worth between $1.7 billion and $3.5 billion annually. There’s clearly demand for the product and by bringing this industry above ground, we can ensure it’s conducted in a smart way that invests in our economy while also protecting public safety.”
The legislation establishes the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) along with a Governing Board and an Advisory Board. The OCM will review and process applications for marijuana distribution licenses as well as create a public health campaign and coordinate with other states to implement uniform laws regarding marijuana. The bill also includes a requirement for a study to be conducted to consider methods and new technologies for determining cannabis impairment while driving. Drivers and passengers will be prohibited from smoking marijuana while in a vehicle, and current penalties for driving while impaired by drugs will continue to apply to those under the influence of marijuana. The proposal also includes provisions to ensure employers have the ability to enact policies related to marijuana’s impact on job performance or the health and safety of the workplace. Additionally, retail dispensaries must be at least 500 feet away from schools.
With the passage of this bill, New York joins 14 other states, two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia in legalizing adult-use cannabis. Tax revenue from adult-use marijuana in other states has surpassed expectations – Colorado regularly collects more than $20 million a month and the California government collects more than $50 million a month. The proposal passed today earmarks some of this revenue to ensure counties have the resources to hire drug training recognition experts, as well as for additional drug treatment and education campaign needs, Woerner noted.
“I don’t encourage anyone to use marijuana, and legalization of a formerly criminalized drug should never be taken lightly,” Woerner said. “This legislation takes a comprehensive, measured approach that ensures safety measures are in place to protect the well-being of our communities.”