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article imageNew York governor delivers marijuana legalization plan

By Karen Graham     Jan 17, 2019 in Politics
New York - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, during his "State of the State" address on Tuesday, released details that shed light on exactly how he wants to end cannabis prohibition in 2019.
Cuomo has done an 180-degree about-face with his position on marijuana. He called marijuana a "gateway drug" as recently as February 2017. However, his changing attitude also reflects on the open-mindedness Cuomo has shown in response to changing public attitudes on the use of cannabis.
This change in attitude was reflected in a speech he made last month at the New York State Bar Association in Manhattan, where he outlined his legislative priorities for his first 100 days of his new term in office.
A milestone in the push toward full legalization
Many experts are saying that Cuomo's plan to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21 is "a milestone in the push toward full legalization of the substance in the U.S.," according to Market Watch.
“Legalize adult-use cannabis,” Cuomo said in his State of the State speech. “Stop the disproportionate impact on communities of color and let’s create an industry that empowers the poor communities that paid the price and not the rich corporations who come in to make a profit.”
The governor plans to create a legal industry that would include women and minority-owned businesses and create jobs in some of the economically deprived regions of the state. At this time, 10 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 33 states have legalized medical cannabis.
Cannabis News suggests the governor is attempting to avoid domination of the industry by big corporations, and this is evident in his budget proposal where producers will not be allowed to own retail shops. The plan also calls for the state to limit the number of both producers and retailers “to guard against a market collapse, encourage equity through craft growers and cooperatives.”
The plan will create jobs
Cuomo is expecting this new business will eventually generate about $300 million in annual tax revenues, although counties will be given the option of opting out of legal sales. To accomplish this, Cuomo has proposed the setup of three new proposed taxes and called on the legislature to pass his Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act.
A new Office of Cannabis Management will be created that will oversee all aspects of cannabis, including hemp, recreational, and medical marijuana. The office will also set up a “three-tier” system of licensing whereby producer, distributor and retailer licenses will be issued, similar to most states' alcohol systems.
The three taxes on cannabis would all occur before any retail sales and include: 1) $1 per dry weight gram of cannabis flower and $0.25 per dry weight gram of cannabis trim when the cannabis crop is cultivated 2) The sale by wholesaler to a retail dispensary is taxed at 20% 3) An additional tax at the wholesale level of 2% that is given to the county where the retailer is located.
According to Governor Cuomo's budget document, tax dollars realized from the marijuana industry would go for “administration of the regulated cannabis program, data gathering, monitoring and reporting, the governor’s traffic safety committee, small business development and loans, substance abuse, harm reduction, and mental health treatment and prevention, public health education and intervention, research on cannabis uses and applications, program evaluation and improvements."
“We are in control,” Cuomo told the theater full of Democratic lawmakers and other politicos at The Egg Center for the Performing Arts. “There is no one else.” He urged lawmakers to push quickly on legalization and other priorities.
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