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Next spring may just be the greenest spring that New York has ever seen.
Last Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his plans to bring legal weed to the Empire State. Along with next year’s budget proposal, Cuomo included his proposal to create a fully licensed cannabis retail market. The proposal would not only allow full adult use, but it would give former pot offenders a chance to clear their criminal records for good.
One thing that makes Cuomo’s plan unique is that it would not impose a retail tax on weed sales. Instead, the state would impose three separate taxes on cultivators and wholesalers. This plan is expected to bring the state $300 million in tax revenue over three years, which would go to fund small business development, substance abuse, and traffic-safety programs.
The proposal is far from a done deal, however. State legislators must still debate and approve the bill before it reaches the governor’s desk for final approval. Even then, the proposal would not allow full retail sales to begin until April 1st of 2020 at the earliest.
Even as some of the East Coast’s largest states begin drafting their plans for legal weed, some of the tiniest islands under U.S. jurisdiction are also beginning to see green.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Guam and Puerto Rico for several years now, and last September, the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands legalized both recreational and medical marijuana in one fell swoop. And now, the Virgin Islands has joined its fellow U.S. territories in saying yes to legalization.
Last week, newly-elected Governor Albert Bryan Jr. signed the Virgin Islands Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act – a new law that will allow patients suffering from almost twenty different qualifying conditions to legally possess up to four ounces of cannabis flower. Some patients will also be allowed to grow up to 12 cannabis plants for their own personal medical use.
In other news, President Trump’s new pick to head the Justice Department has promised not to interfere with legal weed.
Last November, the cannabis world bid farewell to one of its biggest haters – former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. William Barr, Trump’s top choice to replace Sessions, previously served as Attorney General under President Bush in the 90s – where he was responsible for creating “tough-on crime” policies that led to a vast increase in the country’s prison population.
Although Democrats have a long list of concerns regarding Barr’s appointment as the country’s top prosecutor, there is one small silver lining – he has promised that he will not crack down on states that have legalized pot. “To the extent that people are complying with the state laws, distribution and production and so forth, we’re not going to go after that,” Barr said.
Still, Barr is no friend of weed – he also said he would support a federal law that “prohibits marijuana everywhere.” If Congress does confirm Barr’s appointment, it’s not likely that the country will see a change in the status quo, but we can hope that he is not as bad as Jeff Sessions, at least as far as pot is concerned.
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