By Jelena Martinovic
New York is poised to legalize recreational cannabis after lawmakers released a new bill that would tax and regulate marijuana for people over 21.
The text of the proposed legislation, which has been negotiated for weeks, was introduced Saturday, Marijuana Momentreports.
What Happened: The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) will “legalize adult-use cannabis in a way that foregrounds racial justice, while balancing safety with economic growth, encouraging new small businesses, and significantly diminishing the illegal market,” Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat and the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.
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Lawmakers are to vote on the bill early this week after months of talks between the Senate, Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
Why It’s Important: Besides allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of marijuana concentrates and buy recreational cannabis from licensed retailers, the legislation also allows the cultivation of up to three mature and three immature plants for personal use.
In addition, it also allows for people convicted for marijuana-related activity that would now be legal to have their criminal records expunged.
“For generations, too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use and sale of adult-use cannabis, arbitrarily arrested and jailed with harsh mandatory minimum sentences,” Cuomo said.
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Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes said the bill “provides long-awaited marijuana justice for New Yorkers, and makes significant steps and investments to begin to address the generational devastation caused by marijuana prohibition and mass incarceration.”
What’s Next: The bill would take effect immediately upon passing, and sales would launch when New York sets up rules as well as a cannabis board.
Peoples-Stokes said the process could take from 18 months to two years, according to the Associated Press.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.