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New York State Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

By Eric Volkman - Updated Apr 1, 2021 at 9:39AM

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The wave of U.S. cannabis reform washes over one of the largest states.

On Wednesday, New York State sanctioned the sale and consumption of recreational (also known as "adult use") cannabis when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a sweeping legalization bill into law. This occurred one day after it was overwhelmingly approved by the state's legislature.

New York is now the 16th state to have approved recreational marijuana (Washington D.C., at present not a state, has also done so).

Among numerous other measures, the sprawling law allows for a degree of home cultivation for individuals, generous licensing terms for societal groups disproportionally affected by the state's previously tough anti-drug legislation, expungement in qualifying cases for violations of those old laws, and the expansion of qualifications for people to obtain medical cannabis.

Paper ballot under bowl of cannabis flowers.

Image source: Getty Images.

One unique aspect to New York's new marijuana liberalization is that it allows for the public consumption of the drug, albeit with some caveats. For example, it is prohibited at locations that currently bar cigarette smoking by state law, such as school grounds.

Proponents of the law, such as Cuomo, said that taxes from legal weed could amount to $350 million per year for the budget-challenged state. It could also create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs.

Very few publicly traded marijuana companies are active in the state so far, but that's almost certain to change. One operator on the scene is Cresco Labs (CRLBF 1.10%), which has four of its Sunnyside* dispensaries scattered throughout New York State and, as such, will certainly be a company for marijuana stock investors to watch.

Not surprisingly, Cresco is enthusiastic about the new law. "The legislation passed today significantly expanding the medical program and legalizing adult-use cannabis in New York represents a massive domino falling in what has been a steady march toward acceptance and legalization of cannabis nationwide," Cresco quoted CEO Charlie Bachtell as saying.


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