New York state became the 24th state to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older under its new law, which takes effect on January 7, 2018. The law, called the Marijuana Possession and Public Display Act, will legalize possession of marijuana in public, although it does not change current state laws regarding cultivation of marijuana. Specifically, the new law lowers the threshold for a violation for the public display of marijuana to include those prohibitions of public possession of a “container” or “open;” however, possession of marijuana in public remains prohibited. Furthermore, the new law defines “public display” to include the use of marijuana, “in a public place or in any place open to the public,” in which

On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law, making New York the 23rd U.S. state to legalize medical cannabis. The move continues a lengthy and increasingly politicized debate in New York state, which had previously sat on the fence regarding the plant. When Cuomo first ran for governor in 2010, he opposed legalizing medical cannabis, arguing that, “the federal government has not made it legal [and] the federal government has not made it right,” according to the New York Times. However, his re-election campaign later made marijuana legalization a key issue, and he changed positions.

New York State’s three-year effort to legalize recreational marijuana for adults has resulted in a 128-page, 7,000-line law that won’t take full effect for more than a year. Let’s say it’s complicated. Most importantly, people 21 and older are now allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana for personal use. But from how to combat drunk driving to strategies for developing startups and then entering retail, there are many questions. That was the theme of the NY Cannabis Insider Live event, which took place on the 20th. May was held online. The group of experts present at the event gave their views on the main points of the new law. And they answered the questions and tried to give answers to the questions that had already been answered. If there was one theme that ran like a thread through the presentation, it was the importance of the provisions of the Social Equality Act. They seek to undo the damage done to disadvantaged communities, mostly minorities, by past marijuana laws. It should also provide opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses, disabled veterans and struggling farmers. The bill provides for the deletion of criminal records for marijuana offenses that are no longer considered illegal under the new law. The goal is to offer 50% of business licenses (e.g., dispensaries) to those communities disproportionately affected by drug-related arrests and convictions, and to make a financial investment in those communities. Although other states have incorporated some of these elements into their marijuana laws, New York is the only one where they have been established from the beginning, said panelist Ngiste Abebe, president of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association and vice president of public policy at Columbia Care. It’s legislation aimed at equality, says Dashida Dawson, a cannabis czarina in Portland, Ore. New York has set a precedent with this law. This is important, she says, because social justice is the means and health equity is the end. State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, helped pass the legislation. She was the keynote speaker at the event. It’s very advanced, she said. That doesn’t solve racism. Frankly, it has nothing to do with racism. She admits that this (the pursuit of marijuana) was racially motivated. Let’s acknowledge this fact and restore the lives of the people he has harmed. These and other panelists raised other issues, noting that the state has not yet established a cannabis management agency to develop specific regulations and issue business licenses. Other panelists included Allan Gandelman, founder and president of the New York State Cannabis Growers and Processors Association, which operates a cannabis business in Cortland; Arthur Hance, founder and president of Hance Construction, which provides services to the industrial, commercial and cannabis markets in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania; Sam Andras, senior principal and partner of MJ12 Design Studio/2WR + Partners, which provides services to the cannabis industry; and David Serrano, founder and head of business development at Harvest 360 and H360 Labs, which was NY Cannabis Insider’s social partner for the event. Hance Construction was the presenting sponsor of NY Cannabis Insider Live. It was produced by NJ Cannabis Insider in partnership with Advance Media New York, publisher of, and The Post-Standard.

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