Cuomo updates proposal to legalize marijuana adding social funding, delivery services

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced amendments to his previous proposal to legalize recreational use of marijuana in New York.

Posted: Feb 16, 2021 3:20 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2021 3:42 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced amendments to his previous proposal to legalize recreational use of marijuana in New York. He submitted his initial plan as part of the 2021 State of the State in January.

The amendments detail how the state plans to allocate $100 million from the Social Equity Fund to revitalize communities, while establishing delivery services and refining criminal marijuana charges.

According to Cuomo, legalization is projected to create more than 60,000 new jobs, and generate an estimated $350 million in tax revenue.

One of the amendments would allow marijuana delivery services in order to create those jobs. Cuomo says local governments would be able to opt out from delivery services occurring within their jurisdiction.

Through the Social Equity Fund, Cuomo also plans to create funding opportunities in communities most impacted by drugs.

"We know that you cannot overcome a problem without first admitting there is one. Our comprehensive approach to legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provides the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also enables us to directly support the communities most impacted by the war on drugs by creating equity and jobs at every level, in every community in our great state,” said Cuomo.

Qualifying nonprofit organizations and local governments would be able to apply for funding to support the following:

  • Job placement and skills services
  • Adult education
  • Mental health treatment
  • Substance use disorder treatment
  • Housing
  • Financial literacy
  • Community banking
  • Nutrition services
  • Services to address adverse childhood experiences
  • Afterschool and child care services, system navigation services
  • Legal services to address barriers to reentry
  • Links to medical care, women's health services and other community-based supportive services

New York has already passed legislation to decriminalize some drug crimes and expunge criminal records for certain marijuana convictions.

As part of these new amendments, Cuomo also proposes reducing other penalties, including:

  • Criminal sale in the third degree (sale to under 21 year old) will be made a class A misdemeanor instead of an E felony
  • Criminal sale in the second degree (sale of over 16 ounces or 80 grams of concentrate) will be made an E felony instead of a D felony
  • Criminal sale in the first degree (sale of over 64 ounces or 320 grams of concentrate) will be made a D felony instead of a C felony

Cuomo will send his amended proposal to lawmakers this week. 

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