After a day-long debate at the State Capitol in Albany on March 30, the New York Assembly voted 100-49 in favor of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, A.1248-A. The vote followed Senate passage of marijuana legalization bill S.854-A by a 40-23 margin earlier in the day.
New York is the 17th U.S. state to legalize adult-use cannabis
"Today is a day of reckoning," Assembly member Latrice Walker, representing Brooklyn, declared.
The Republican minority attempted to sway the Democratic majority in both chambers with specious arguments about potency, health, driving and increased emergency room visits in legal states like Colorado and California.
But they were overwhelmed by a chorus of lawmakers illustrating the long history of prohibition, the damage done to communities of color and how legalization will help lift them up.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who made compromises to reach an agreement with Assembly and Senate leaders, signed the bill on March 31. Possession is now officially legal.
Read the MRTA details here.
After the vote, Assembly member Richard Gottfried, representing Manhattan, commented:
"Today marks a milestone on the road toward a more rational drug policy in New York. I'm proud to have helped lead the fight in New York every step of the way."
Empire State NORML deputy director Troy Smit stated:
"We stand on the shoulders of giants. It’s taken a great amount of work and perseverance by activists, patients and consumers for New York to go from being the cannabis-arrest capital of the world to lead the world with a legalized market dedicated to equity, diversity and inclusion. This might not be the perfect piece of legislation, but today cannabis consumers can hold their heads high and smell the flowers. In the words of our late director Doug Greene: 'Cannabis Excelsior!'"
NORML executive director Erik Altieri added:
"The passage of legislation legalizing the adult-use marijuana market in New York State will not only have serious economic and social justice ramifications for its nearly 20 million residents, but it no doubt will have ripple effects across the nation and arguably also within the halls of Congress - providing further pressure on federal lawmakers to amend federal law in a manner that eliminates the existing inconsistencies between state and federal cannabis policies."
Virginia recently became the 16th state to legalize cannabis. The other adult-legal states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington.