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Governor Cuomo Unveils Plan To Legalize Recreational Marijuana In New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo has revealed details of his proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, during a budget address on Tuesday.

Cuomo's $175 billion state budget proposal includes his recreational marijuana plan. The budget proposal is for the new fiscal year, which begins on April 1, 2020.

The proposal seeks to restrict marijuana access to anyone under the age of 21 and automatically seal certain cannabis-related criminal records.

The proposal also anticipates legal marijuana to create jobs and generate about $300 million in annual revenue by the third year after the program is fully phased in.

Specifically, the program will reduce the impacts of criminalization affecting communities of color, and implement quality control as well as consumer protections to safeguard public health. The governor noted that counties and large cities can opt out of the retail industry.

The proposed Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act will impose three taxes on the adult use of marijuana. The three taxes will be imposed at the cultivation or wholesale stage, not retail.

However, according to Cuomo's proposal, legal sales of recreational marijuana will not begin in the state until April 1, 2020 at the earliest.

The governor also proposed creating a new Office of Cannabis Management or OCM that will centralize all the licensing, enforcement and economic development functions into one entity.

In January 2018, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Health to launch a multi-agency study to review the potential impact of regulated cannabis in New York. The study, issued last July, concluded that the positive impact of a regulated cannabis program in New York State outweighed the potential negative aspects.

The governor's proposal now heads to the Senate and Assembly for debate.

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