Changes in New York’s Marijuana Laws

New York’s medical marijuana companies and patients are poised to reap major benefits from the state’s new law legalizing recreational marijuana.

Tucked inside the new marijuana law approved Wednesday are major changes to the medical marijuana program, which launched in 2016 and has since sold cannabis-based drugs to more than 143,000 patients.

From expanding eligible health conditions to allowing smok-able dry marijuana flower, the new law addressed patient advocates’ long-standing push to improve access and affordability within the medical cannabis program.

Recreational marijuana will be subject to a 13% tax — 9% will go to the state and 4% to local governments. There also will be an excise tax on recreational marijuana of up to 3 cents per milligram of THC, a chemical that causes most of marijuana’s mood-altering effects.

State-approved marijuana sales

The new law sets up a complex legal and regulatory program in which the state will determine a range of matters, including where marijuana retailers can locate, and who gets to grow, process, distribute and sell marijuana and cannabis products. That process is set to legally begin no sooner than March 1, 2022. No one expects sales to begin for between 18 and 24 months.