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Question: what is New York's history of trying to decriminlize cannabis?

Posted by David Holland | Apr 25, 2021 | 0 Comments



1977 – Marijuana Reform Act of 1977 – Laws of 1977, Ch. 360

-           Creates Penal Law 221 for strictly cannabis related crimes and removing most cannabis offenses (but not concentrated cannabis, hash, etc) from Penal Law 220 which is Controlled Substances Offenses

-           Personal possession of up to 25 grams a violation with $100 fine as long as not visible to the public or burning in public

1980 – Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act – Laws of 1980, Ch. 810

-           Created Public Health Law 3397a – 3397g to establish a medical marijuana research program studying patients who suffered from glaucoma and other conditions that anecdotally were known to be responsive to cannabis.

-           Dept of Health to procure cannabis from U. of Mississippi federal program

-           Not well funded and did not get off ground.

-           NOTE: In 2019, the decriminalization bill passed by Legislature raised that amount to 2 ounces and removed burning in public from being a criminal offense to a violation.

-           On March 31, 2021 the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”) was signed into law which legalized adult use cannabis in New York State. The programs for medical marijuana, hemp, and adult use cannabis all will fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”), which will be an independent branch of the State Liquor Authority.

            The OCM will be governed by the Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”), which will be comprised of an Executive Director (who must be approved with the advise and consent of the State Senate), a Chief Equity Officer, and two other Directors all appointed by the Governor, as well as a representative each appointed by the State Assembly and the State Senate leaders.

About the Author

David Holland

As Executive Director of Empire State NORML and President of the New York City Cannabis Industry Association, David has been a leading advocate in the cannabis space for over 20 years. He has represented clients in marijuana related proceedings everywhere from traffic court to the United States Supreme Court, and he helped obtain clemency for five elderly prisoners servicing life without parole for marijuana. David also handles complex civil and criminal litigation in other areas including employment, First Amendment, and business.


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