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Lawmakers consider major changes to recreational marijuana law

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  • Staff Report 

State legislators in New York are in discussions with the governor’s office to make significant adjustments to the state’s recreational marijuana law, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which was passed and signed into law in 2021. Legal cannabis sales have faced setbacks since the law’s enactment, prompting lawmakers to consider changes to facilitate legal sales.

Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Crystal People’s-Stokes described the proposed changes as “necessary tweaking” to address issues arising from New York’s first-time implementation of such legislation. Lawmakers aim to increase enforcement, allowing the state to shut down illegal shops that have become a nuisance in New York City and throughout the state, undercutting legally sanctioned dispensaries.

State Senator Liz Krueger highlighted the importance of addressing the problem of illegal businesses, noting that the proposed changes would increase fines levied against illegal cannabis shops. In addition to enforcement, the alterations being discussed would also revise the tax structure, which is currently considered prohibitively expensive.

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Peoples-Stokes believes that simplifying the process would benefit producers, laboratories, businesses, and consumers by reducing costs throughout the supply chain. Some attribute the law’s deficiencies to former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s inaction in establishing the necessary agency to oversee the law’s implementation.

New York’s law currently gives preferential treatment to applicants with prior marijuana-related arrests for opening legal cannabis shops. This provision is being challenged in two separate lawsuits at both federal and state levels.