April 1, 2021

Recreational Marijuana Use Is Now Legal In New York

As of Wednesday, March 31st, Governor Cuomo has signed and passed the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA), officially legalizing recreational cannabis use in New York. 


New York finally joins several other states in legalizing the adult-use of cannabis. Officials estimate that the legalization of recreational marijuana could provide the state with approximately $350 million in annual revenue and potentially create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs statewide.

The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)

The MRTA will establish the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) which will work to cover regulations on the adult-use cannabis market, medical cannabis, and cannabinoid products. So while the legislature provisions are effective immediately, retail sales may not yet start until the OCM has implemented their set of regulations. This may take about 18 months to 2 years to go into effect.

  • The OCM will be made up of a five-member Cannabis Control Board. First, appointments to the board will begin by the Governor and each house of the legislature.
  • Separate licensing systems will be created to differentiate cannabis growers/processors from distributors and retailers. 
  • Creation of a social and economic equity program aimed at having 50% of licenses issued to social equity applicants.

MRTA Highlights:

  • Legal age to purchase marijuana will be 21.
  • Adults are permitted to carry up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate in public.
  • Marijuana sellers will need to be licensed. Regulations will be implemented by the OCM. 
  • For their own personal use, New Yorkers are permitted to grow a max of 6 plants (3 mature & 3 immature). 


  • Eliminates penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis.
  • Those with past convictions for offenses that would no longer be criminalized would have their record automatically expunged.


  • 9% state sales tax on cannabis and cannabis products. 
  • An additional 4% local sales tax split between the county & municipality. 
  • An additional tax would also be imposed based on the level of THC in the product. (0.5 cents per milligram for flower & 3 cents per milligram for edibles)
  • Tax revenue will cover the cost of the regulation program, reinvestment grants for minority communities affected by the criminalization, and substance abuse prevention programs and education.

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