Ben Parker/Sun Senior Editor

The New York State Legislature voted to legalize hemp use for adults 21 and older on Tuesday.

March 31, 2021

New York State Is Set to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

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Recreational marijuana use is set to become legal in New York State, after the state legislature voted in favor of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act Tuesday night. Gov Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) verbally committed to sign the bill, and is expected to do so on Wednesday.

New York will become the 15th state in the country to legalize cannabis for recreational use after years of policy ping pong in the statehouse. Once the law goes into effect, the state will limit purchase and possession of cannabis to adults 21 and older.

Previously, New York law only allowed for the prescription of medical cannabis. The department of health will continue to manage the medical marijuana program. The law also will establish a state Office of Cannabis Management, which will manage licensing for any individuals or businesses interested in growing or sale. 

To limit New Yorkers younger than 21 from using cannabis-infused products, the bill includes restrictions on advertising and packaging that could be more appealing to children. In the Tuesday floor debate, State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-N.Y.), the sponsor of the bill, specified the example of edible gummies shaped similarly to “Swedish fish or gummy bears.”

Notably, the bill incorporates social equity provisions, including the clearance of legal records for those with previous marijuana-related convictions. In an attempt to address historical harms that disproportionately affected marginalized groups including people of color, these communities will receive a portion of tax revenue generated by newly legalized cannabis sales.

But at Cornell, legalizing cannabis may have little impact on campus life. Use and possession may still be relegated to the shadows. At colleges in legal states such as Colorado, California and Massachusetts, school policies largely reflect the federal ban on cannabis use, which remains listed as a Schedule 1 drug. The University did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication and has yet to announce how this state law will affect Cornellians over 21.