Recreational cannabis legalization in New York is arguably the most progressive in the nation. In addition, new York cannabis laws ensure that members of minorities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition benefit from legalization.

Social and economic equity help people impacted by cannabis enforcement, women-owned business, and distressed farmers with lucrative license access. Additionally, cannabis laws prefer members of those communities that are affected by cannabis prohibition. Also, it gives preference to members having less than 80% median income, or convicted of marijuana offence, or have a family member convicted.

The primary social equity components of the new law include:

  • Expanding social equity of applicants
  • Creation of a community reinforcement fund
  • Automatic expungement of past criminals cannabis convictions

Moreover, the laws expand the medical marijuana program by permitting home growing and establishing an office of cannabis management for regulating adult-use programs.


Social Equity Applicants:

New York laws expand the qualification for a social equity applicant to include:

  • Minorities
  • Women-owned business enterprises
  • Distressed farmers
  • Service-disabled veterans

Moreover, it encourages participants by awarding 50% of the license. In addition, MRTA – Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act incorporate geographically targeted licenses to help the neighbourhood and impacted communities.

Many other states that account for social equity don’t assist applicants with education and financial support, crucial to succeed in the fast-paced cannabis market. The New York equity law attempt to solve the issue by administrating a combination of grants:

  • Low-interest loans
  • Business incubator programs


Marijuana Possession in New York:

Cannabis laws effective from March 31, 2021, legalize adult-use cannabis and provide licensure to producers, distributors, and retailers throughout the Empire State. Adults over 21 can possess up to 3 ounces/ 85 grams of marijuana or 0.85 ounces of cannabis concentrate. Moreover, cannabis law permits an individual to cultivate three mature and three immature marijuana plants. One regulation for home grow is in place; you can grow up to 12 plants household.

New York marijuana legalization is the strongest among all states considering social equity. Here are some key points of the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act:

  • A goal to award 50% of all adult-use licenses to social and economic equity applicants.
  • 40% of the tax revenue generated by adult-use sales
  • Existing medical marijuana operators pay a one-time special licensing fee to convert MMJ dispensaries to dual medical-recreational stores
  • Financial support to social equity applicants, including low-interest loans, fee reduction, opening business, and assistance in preparing an application
  • Microbusiness allow forming vertical operation to help them achieve economic of scales
  • Social equity licenses to be prohibited from selling or transferring their licenses within the first year after use

Empire State is the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana use. The resulting MRTA set standard for all incoming adult-use cannabis states to prioritize social and economic incentives. Social equity and reinvestment funds impact those individuals who have been harmed by the prohibition of years to come.


New York Adult-Use Cannabis Licenses:

MRTA establishes the following recreational cannabis licenses under S 854-A. The license will be available to:

  • Adult-use cultivator license
  • Adult-use processor license
  • Delivery license
  • Microbusiness license
  • Adult-use cooperative license
  • Adult-use distributor license
  • Adult-use retail dispensary license
  • Nursery license
  • Adult-use on-site consumption license

New York is the third-largest economy and fourth populous state that has set a gold standard for state cannabis industries. MRTA establishes industry governing bodies – cannabis control board – CCB and office of the cannabis management – OMC. They create a license, set up social and economic equity, and allocates a significant revenue tax from cannabis sales. The cannabis tax revenue will reduce the state’s significant budget deficit and repair economic damage caused by COVID.

How does the Legislation relate to Racial Justice?

Cannabis legislation automatically expunges the criminal records of people convicted of marijuana offences as it is no longer illegal. In addition, cannabis lawmakers have set a goal to reserve a 50% license for people from communities impacted by a marijuana arrest.

Now people across the races can possess and use marijuana for recreational use. The MRTA bill creates a regulatory framework for the New York marijuana industry to rectify the harm done by marijuana policy to black, brown, and low-income communities. Right now, all minor communities will automatically be cleared from criminal records.

New York governor signed the bill into law on March 31, 2021, after years of work by drug policy alliance organizations. One of the biggest wins is that the legislation prohibits police from searching people based on marijuana odour.


Leave a Reply