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New York Finally Legalizes Recreational Cannabis



The State of New York has just legalized cannabis for adult use. The bill was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last Wednesday, after years of failed attempts to make cannabis legal in the state.


On March 31st, New York became the 17th state to legalize cannabis for recreational or adult use. This means that individuals ages 21 or above are now allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana, and can even tend to up to six plants at home. Many retail cannabis dispensary startups will soon undergo licensing and are expected to open their doors next year.



What This Means for New Yorkers


New York’s newly-enacted law, called the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, establishes cannabis as a legal product that can be manufactured and sold in the local market. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), a newly-formed regulatory body, will now administer the state’s recreational cannabis use and will take control of the state’s medical cannabis program from the Department of Health.


After three years of political lobbying and anticipation, New Yorkers will now be able to smoke weed in their homes or in any place where tobacco is allowed. In the coming months and years, New Yorkers can even expect more even modifications and additions to this law, such as the legalization of cannabis online deliveries. Of course, smoking weed is still banned inside schools, playgrounds, parks, or any other public facilities that also ban tobacco.


How Legalization Can Benefit Local Communities


The enacted bill will heavily take into account social equity. It aims to benefit individuals and communities who have been affected by the longstanding “War on Drugs” that resulted in many convictions for nonviolent cannabis-related crimes. The state is also optimistic regarding the community-related impacts of this new law. Governor Cuomo stated that the enacted bill would likely generate more than 60,000 jobs.


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon



Effects on the US Cannabis Industry as a Whole


This move by New York policymakers is expected to have a huge impact on the nation’s cannabis industry as a whole. Many states are expected to be strongly influenced by New York’s newly legal market, especially its neighbors. “New York is such a juggernaut and such an influencer, it will have a domino effect on the whole East Coast,” said Rob DiPisa, co-chairman of the cannabis law group at the law firm Cole Schotz.


Law firm Brach Eichler’s co-chairman for cannabis law, Charles Gormally stated “New York residents favor legalized cannabis by a wide margin, so it is welcome relief to the citizenry that this state will move ahead with creating a regulated cannabis marketplace for adult use,”. Gormally further said: “There seems to be a genuine commitment to move forward at a brisk pace, perhaps motivated by the reality that failing to do so will cede the marketplace to states like New Jersey that are on the way to creating a regulated and taxed marketplace for cannabis.”


Many even believe that this may be a turning point in affecting the federal-level prohibition and may push reforms to decriminalize cannabis nationwide.


Photo by Nout Gons


Cannabis Business Opportunities in the State of New York


Cuomo has stated Wednesday that the legalization of adult-use cannabis in New York will stimulate a market segment that is potentially worth $3.5 billion which will generate more than $350 million in tax revenue. Even before this new legalization law, many experts have agreed that New York is one of the biggest cannabis markets in the US.


There are currently only (more or less) 10 state-approved registered organizations (ROs) that can operate a cannabis business in the state of New York. Each of these ROs was allowed to operate a maximum of four medical cannabis dispensaries. As medical cannabis patients increase in numbers by the tens of thousands each year, the state’s medical marijuana market is expected to increase to $504 million in 2022. The new law has also included terms and provisions that allow existing cannabis companies to expand to the recreational segment by paying a special one-time licensing fee.


Entrepreneurs and investors looking to profit from the recently legalized recreational market should start their pre-licensing arrangements as soon as possible. Much like the medical program before it, the licenses that will be handed out will be limited only to a lucky few. And like in other states, competition will surely be fierce. Many savvy entrepreneurs are now putting together a business plan and a financial model that will help attract investors and win state approval.


If you plan to join the ever-growing cannabis market in New York, now would be the best time to start your own preparations. Employing professional services is a top choice for many cannabis startups especially in newly legal settings. Cannabis professionals can help you in business planning, brand building, licensing application, and finding the right team members.


Consider New York Cannabis Insurance For Your Business


For both new and existing players, knowing the right experts has proven to increase business efficiency and has made sure that rules and regulations adherence is maintained. However, if you want to increase your risk management portfolio on a different level, finding the right insurance coverage is key. You, your team, and the professionals you hired have all worked hard to build your business. You wouldn’t want something that is out of your control to set you back. Insurance coverage can protect your business not only from operational risks but also from third-party legal liability claims.


Here at The Shands Agency, we offer the best policies designed with your canna-business in mind.


Get a Free Quote and Consultation Today.

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