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New York set to legalize cannabis by April 2021 – Governor’s advisor says

New York set to legalize marijuana

The Empire State is set to enact cannabis reform by April 2021, as revealed by the governor’s top advisor. Assistant Counsel Axel Bernabe, the advisor to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), said New York cannabis legalization would be introduced through the state budget in January, followed by the enactment in April next year.

Cannabis reform in New York

In an interview with David Culver of Canopy Growth Corporation on their video series “Under The Canopy”, Bernabe also hinted at state regulations for hemp-based CBD products and even permitting infused drinks and food items. 

The governor’s advisor also said the upcoming legislation would serve as a “model” for other states. The legislation aims to prioritize social equity and economic development.

However, the advisor said their neighboring state, New Jersey, could beat New York to the punch as their voters head to the polls next month, all set to approve the legalization referendum. 

We’re watching New Jersey closely. We’ve always been confident that we get to this before New Jersey [….] We’re working on this. We’re going to reintroduce this in our budget in January. We think we can get it done by April 1, Bernabe said.

Public safety and economic development

In New York, negotiations have stalled out at the legislature, despite the governor including legalization in his budget for the last two years. One of the key contentious issues is how cannabis tax revenue will be allocated, which has prevented the House from striking a deal. 

According to Bernabe, he was especially excited by the public safety and economic development associated with cannabis legalization. He spoke about the need to ensure social equity for all communities historically targeted by the war on drugs. The governor’s advisor also hinted at some changes from this year’s version based on other states’ experiences.

I would say equity pervades the entirety of the bill. It pervades it on the licensing front, it’s on the revenue side and the use of funds and providing capital and loans, he said.   

During the interview, Bernabe also touched on pending regulations for hemp-derived CBD products. Currently, those who grow hemp for fiber, seeds, and other agricultural purposes are covered. 

However, Bernabe said the administration is “literally putting the final tweaks” on consumer CBD products’ policies. These are expected to be implemented at the beginning of 2021. The new regulations will focus on CBD products’ parameters, what is permissible, and what’s not. 

Bernabe also said they’re pursuing an aspect of legalization that other states have avoided: regulating CBD-infused drinks and food items. This would eventually lead to consumer protection.

In how many states cannabis is fully legal?

Until October 2020, cannabis/marijuana is fully legal in 12 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington.

What are the estimated illicit cannabis sales in 2020 in the USA?

According to the New Frontier Data report, it could be approximately 60 billion.

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Ashley Combs

Ashley is a writer with a strong understanding of and passion for the cannabis market. At, she covers everything from the cannabis stock market, cannabis market regulations to cannabis legalization news from the USA and worldwide. She loves cats 😼

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