Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday morning to legalize adult-use, recreational cannabis in New York and create the country’s second-largest recreational marijuana market.
With the governor’s endorsement of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which cleared the Legislature late Tuesday, New York officially joins 16 other states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, that have embraced full legalization. More than two-thirds of the northeast’s 56 million residents will live in states that have legalized recreational cannabis, ramping up pressure on Washington, D.C., to ease federal restrictions on the drug.
"This is a historic day in New York — one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State's economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said in a statement issued after he quietly signed the bill.
New Yorkers aged 21 and older can now legally possess and consume cannabis. Dispensaries are not expected to open in New York until at least 2022 under the new regulatory and licensing structure.