New York to legalize recreational marijuana after solidifying deal

Officials have agreed to legalize the drug for recreational use

New York marijuana smokers can now light up without fear.

It looks like the state’s lawmakers have finally come to an agreement around marijuana. On Thursday officials agreed to legalize the drug for recreational use, per The New York Times.

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“A percentage of revenue that is raised will get invested into the communities where the people who suffered mass incarceration come from and still live in many cases,” said Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, Assemblywoman and a Democrat, who has focused on decriminalizing marijuana for years.

“For me this is a lot more than about raising revenue: It’s about investing in the lives of the people that have been damaged.”

The details and regulations surrounding what the deal will look like still need to be worked out but if it is approved, it could potentially be a $4.2 B industry creating thousands of jobs.

The move also hopes to end the disproportionately high level of Black and Hispanic people who face low-level charges for marijuana use.

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Recreational cannabis use would be legal for those 21 and over. There will also be ‘consumption sites’ or lounges and delivery of the drug will be permitted. The ‘consumption sites’ would exclude alcohol.

“When this bill is finally voted on and signed, New York will be able to say we have finally undone damaging criminal justice laws that accomplished nothing but ruining people’s lives,” said Liz Krueger, a state senator and a Democrat who spearheaded the upper chamber negotiations.

“We will finally be able to say we’re going to have an industry for cannabis that assures people who buy the product that they are buying a legitimate product from legitimate companies.”

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According to a Siena College poll 60% of New Yorkers are in favor of legalizing the drug recreationally and 71% of Black voters think it’s a good idea.

If the deal is approved, sales could start in a year or so.

Gov. Andrew M.Cuomo finally struck a deal with lawmakers after being a known critic of legalizing the drug. But with states like New Jersey legalizing it, it added pressure on him to make a move. 

Cuomo is also under additional pressure from lawmakers to resign after being accused of sexually harassing multiple women.

As reported by theGrio, Cuomo‘s office is opening its own investigation into an allegation that he groped a female aide at the governor’s mansion.

The Albany Times Union reports that the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations will begin an inquiry.

“We have our own inquiries ongoing,” a senior aide to the governor told the Times Union. “We have an obligation to investigate any claim of sexual harassment. And we, after reporting (the female aide’s allegations) to the (attorney general), were directed to continue our own inquiry. … So there are multiple inquiries.”

The internal investigation has been deemed a “parallel” investigation running concurrently with one being executed by New York attorney general Letitia James. She has hired two private attorneys for the independent investigation. According to the report, James’ office did not respond to questions about the new inquiry.

In a statement, the acting counsel for the governor said, “We fully informed the (attorney general’s) office of the required process with this type of allegation and they said to follow it. The matter was referred to GOER (Governor’s Office of Employee Relations) and (we) informed local law enforcement and that is the full extent of the action.”

According to the report, the latest accuser became emotional at work while watching Cuomo during a press conference on March 3, 2021, when he denied touching any women “inappropriately.” The woman’s coworkers questioned her reaction and she reportedly told them about the alleged encounter with Cuomo.

Additional reporting by Biba Adams

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