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New York Becomes 3rd State to Legalize Pot in This Fashion

Lawmakers approved the change
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2021 12:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – New York has become the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana—and the third where the change was approved by lawmakers, not voters. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a legalization bill Wednesday morning, calling it a "historic day," CNBC reports. The legislation was passed Tuesday evening by votes of 43-20 in the state Senate and 100-49 in the Assembly. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats. State residents over 21 can now legally possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana, though with regulations still to be drawn up, legal sales of pot for recreational use won't begin for an estimated 18 months, reports the AP.

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The bill—which will create an industry worth an estimated $4.2 billion—also allows residents to grow up to six marijuana plants per household, the Democrat & Chronicle reports. Sales will be taxed at 14%, ABC News reports, raising an estimated $350 million a year. Municipalities will get a 4% cut, though they will also be allowed to opt out of permitting marijuana dispensaries. New York Attorney General Letitia James described legalization as "a racial and criminal justice imperative," noting that "people of color have been disproportionately impacted by an outdated and shortsighted marijuana prohibition." The bill also expunges the convictions of many people previously convicted of possession. (Read more marijuana legalization stories.)

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