IT’S OFFFICIAL: Following the New York State Legislature’s Overwhelming Approval, Governor Cuomo Signs New York Marijuana Legislation Into Law

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The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act Centers Community Reinvestment, Social Equity and Justice – Setting the Gold Standard for Reform

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana today, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, making New York the 15th state to do so.

ALBANY, NY — March 31, 2021 — In response to Governor Cuomo signing marijuana legalization into law, following the New York State Legislature’s overwhelmingly approval of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S.854-A/A.1248-A) last night, Melissa Moore, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:                              

“A new era for marijuana justice is here. After years of hard work against long odds, New York has enacted one of the most ambitious marijuana legalization programs in the country. Let’s be clear — the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act is an outright victory for the communities hit hardest by the failed war on drugs. By placing community reinvestment, social equity, and justice front and center, this law is the new gold standard for reform efforts nationwide. Today we celebrate, tomorrow we work hard to make sure this law is implemented fairly and justly for all New Yorkers.”


For years, DPA has been on the forefront working to reduce marijuana arrests statewide, allow medical marijuana and legalize marijuana for adult use. With its Start SMART NY campaign, DPA has worked to end marijuana prohibition in New York and create a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in racial and economic justice.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was first introduced in the New York State Legislature in 2013, and the Drug Policy Alliance has been supporting the call for adult-use legalization and regulation since the initial conversations with the bill sponsors, Senator Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes, more than 8 years ago.

In the 2019 legislative session, advocates were extremely close to passing marijuana legalization in the state budget, but when there was a lack of commitment to community reinvestment from the Governor, legislative champions Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes and Senator Krueger continued pushing for full marijuana justice or no deal. The 2019 legislative session ended without adult-use legalization, but a separate bill established expungement for the first time in New York State for low-level marijuana arrests because of relentless pressure from advocates.

The barebones pandemic budget of 2020 scrambled marijuana reform efforts, but DPA persisted by organizing with allies across multiple movements throughout the year in recognition of the way that marijuana prohibition has had devastating impacts in so many areas of people’s lives across the state.

In 2021, DPA worked closely with advocates, communities impacted by prohibition and lawmakers to reach the finish line and see the legislature pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act with robust provisions for addressing prior harms of criminalization, groundbreaking social equity architecture, and significant community reinvestment of cannabis tax revenue. Through advocacy and mobilization, DPA redoubled its efforts and helped achieve a goal that was decades in the making: marijuana reform that puts equity, community investment and justice front and center in New York.


About the Drug Policy Alliance

SOURCE: The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the autonomy of individuals over their minds and bodies. Learn more at

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TribuneIT’S OFFFICIAL: Following the New York State Legislature’s Overwhelming Approval, Governor Cuomo Signs New York Marijuana Legislation Into Law

Comments 5

  1. Let me get this straight-part of the justification for passing this law is that it would benefit communities of color? Yes, what communities of color really need is more marijuana. This will really help improve things.

    1. Nothing more equitable than more weed zombies in the hood. This is so stupid. When is crack and heroin getting legalized?

    2. Leave it to the DEMOC RATS to screw up NY, they can’t balance the budget so they pass ridiculous laws to raise money. The morons will make NY a ghost town.

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