Cuomo Announces 2021 Plan to Legalize Cannabis

Hodgson Russ Hemp & Medical Cannabis Alert

One day after New York lawmakers reintroduced legislation to legalize cannabis in New York, Governor Cuomo released a statement announcing his plan for legalizing adult-use cannabis as part of his 2021 State of the State.

As described by Cuomo’s statement, the proposal is similar and builds upon the plan introduced in 2020, which we reported on here. Like his prior proposal, Cuomo’s plan contemplates the creation of an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the new adult-use program, as well as existing medical cannabis and cannabinoid hemp programs. The new proposal is expected to provide opportunities and benefits for those communities that have been most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

While the announcement was sparse on details, it made clear that the proposal emphasizes best practices and responsible use, including “stringent quality and safety controls including strict regulation of the packaging, labeling, advertising, and testing of all cannabis products.” It remains to be seen whether advocates for strong social equity provisions, or downstate Democrats who have pushed for opt-out provisions, have secured any major changes to last year’s proposal.

Once fully implemented, it is expected that the legislation will generate more than $300 million in tax revenue.

This alert will be updated as soon as more details of Cuomo’s plan emerge. For additional information, please contact Melissa Subjeck (716.848.1719), Patrick Hines (716.848.1679), or any member of Hodgson Russ’s Hemp & Medical Cannabis Practice.

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