New York to Legalize Cannabis

With a signature from Governor Cuomo today, New York becomes the 16th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over.

State Legislature Approves The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act; Bill Now Heads to Gov. Cuomoโ€™s Desk

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Albany, NY โ€” Today, the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) received final approval from state legislators. The bill now proceeds to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who is expected to sign it into law.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the number one organization in the U.S. legalizing cannabis.

Following the governorโ€™s signature, New York will become the 16th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. New York will be just the third state to adopt a legalization policy by passing a bill through its state legislature, joining Illinois and Vermont. Thirteen additional states have legalized by voter initiative. 

โ€œWe applaud the New York Legislature and the tireless work of advocates for their commitment to ending cannabis prohibition through a social justice-centered approach. We expect 2021 to be a record-breaking year for legislatures legalizing cannabis. More than two-thirds of Americans believe itโ€™s time to end prohibition and this move represents the latest example of elected officials joining the chorus of support for legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults,โ€

Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project.

Under the legislation, it will be legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrate, plus adults can grow a maximum of three mature plants and three immature plants once regulations are adopted. Additionally, the bill includes provisions for automatic expungement, community reinvestment, and measures to ensure the industry includes communities that have been disproportionately targeted by cannabis enforcement. A summary of the MRTA is available here.

โ€œThis is a huge victory for the Empire State. This billโ€™s passage is a monumental step forward towards addressing and repairing the harms caused by cannabis criminalization. Far too many New Yorkers, especially in Black and brown communities, have faced the injustice of cannabis-related arrests and convictions. New York lawmakers and advocates deserve to be commended for their work on the MRTA,โ€

DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel at the Marijuana Policy Project. 
Governor Cuomo Legalizes Marijuana
Tweet from Governor Andrew Cuomo legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Several other state legislatures are seriously considering legalization this year. Most notably, a bill that would legalize cannabis in Virginia is awaiting action from Gov. Northam, and New Mexico lawmakers convened a special legislative session in order to negotiate the details of a legalization bill. Cannabis legalization bills are also being considered in Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.


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About MPP: The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s leading cannabis policy organization. It has been advocating for federal cannabis reform since its founding in 1995, and it has played a leading role in the majority of state-level cannabis victories over the past two decades. For more information, visit

Contact: Violet Cavendish

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