Cuomo’s Legal Marijuana Plan Includes Delivery


Gov. Andrew Cuomo has added the option of home delivery to his latest proposal for legalized, adult-use recreational marijuana in New York. Local governments would have the ability to opt-out of allowing delivery within their jurisdictions.

Delivery is one of several amendments Cuomo announced this week to the legal marijuana plan he officially proposed in January. This is the third year Cuomo has endorsed legal recreational marijuana in New York, but the two earlier plans failed to win support in the state Legislature. The state does have a legal medical marijuana program.

The previously announced recreational marijuana plan would allow New Yorkers over the age of 21 to buy marijuana from state-approved dispensaries. Local governments would have the option to opt-out of hosting those dispensaries as well.

Cuomo’s plan is built on projections that legal recreational marijuana would create 60,000 jobs in the state, with $3.5 billion in “economic activity,” generating $350 million in annual tax revenues “once fully implemented,” his office said.

He’s proposing delivery to help with that economic impact and to spread it fairly across the state, his office said.

“As social and economic equity are the bedrock of Governor Cuomo’s proposal, delivery services offer a low-cost entry point into the industry, particularly in communities which have been especially impacted by the war on drugs,” the governor’s office said in a news release on February 16, 2021.

Another amendment Cuomo added this week to the new legal marijuana plan would create a $100 million “social equity fund.” It would use marijuana revenues to “help revitalize communities that have been most harmed by the war on drugs,” the governor’s office said today. It would assist those communities with job placement, housing, nutrition, The new plan would also reduce penalties for some types of marijuana sales that would remain crimes under the proposal. They include lower charges for criminal sale to a minor (under 21), criminal sale of more than 16 ounces (or 80 grams of concentrate), and criminal sale of more than 64 ounces or 320 grams of concentrate).

The goal for these changes, the governor’s office said, is “to ensure that penalties are carefully calibrated to ensure that all those who wish to participate in this new (legal) market, are operating on the same level playing field.”

These changes follow a marijuana decriminalization law that Cuomo signed in 2019, which increased the amount of marijuana you can possess without facing a criminal charge and reduced fines for low-level possession.

Cuomo’s office noted the state has been reviewing drug policies for several years and seeks to address “years of outdated policies stemming from the War on Drugs (that) have disproportionately impacted communities of color.”

“Already, New York has taken steps to decriminalize cannabis and as this new (legal) market is realized, … it’s critical that criminal penalties are thoughtfully assigned, as to ensure that the progress which has already been made, is not inadvertently reversed.”

As earlier announced, Cuomo’s plan would create an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee legal marijuana production and sales, similar to the State Liquor Authority’s role for the alcohol industry.

Some critics have faulted Cuomo’s plan for creating a too highly regulated sales and production plan that would favor large businesses over smaller ones, and for not making provisions for home-grown marijuana.