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Marijuana plantation. REUTERS, Photo by Amir Cohen.
Marijuana plantation. Photo: Amir Cohen/Reuters

The outlook for marijuana users in New York City  

Following the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis in New York, the benefits for consumers are reflected in the short term.

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In New York, cannabis was already regulated for medical use and widely decriminalized, but the new law will have some immediate effects on the daily lives of consumers.

Although retail marijuana sales will not begin until mid to late 2022, the regulations are in the process of being drafted and regulated by the Bureau of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board. It is anticipated that in three to four years a market will be generated with the cultivation capacity and number of dispensaries to meet consumer demand.

What changes will this regulation have for cannabis users? 

Some of the immediate consequences allow New Yorkers to smoke marijuana outdoors in the same places where cigarette smoking is allowed, although it is still illegal to smoke in schools, workplaces and cars, eventually local municipalities may also choose to implement stricter rules in this regard. 

Users will be allowed to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis, this clearly governs adults over the age of 21. In addition, non-violent marijuana possession convictions will begin to be expunged from criminal records.

In the medium term, the regulations will allow for the election of a new regulatory agency to oversee cannabis in New York, expand New York's medical program, which will expand the list of medical conditions eligible for medical cannabis, as well as product options.

Adult consumers in New York will now be able to grow cannabis plants at home, Each household, regardless of the number of adults, will be limited to 12 plants.

It is also expected that sometime in 2022, one will be able to go to a store to buy a gummy or pre-roll or some cannabis-derived product, consume cannabis in "consumption lounges" and even have marijuana delivered to one's home. 

In this regard, the state plans to establish a new license that will allow people to consume marijuana on-site at different locations. These licenses are limited to three per person, and owners will not be eligible for other licenses, such as cultivation or retail.

So far it is known that the board that will regulate the cannabis industry will have five members, three of whom will be appointed by the governor. Each legislative chamber will choose one member. While it is unclear who will fill these positions, it is expected that members will be chosen soon, as lawmakers have indicated they expect a quick rollout.

Norman Birenbaum, New York's director of cannabis programs, and Axel Bernabe, Cuomo's deputy counsel, have been the governor's point people on this reform and are expected to be involved in the state's cannabis program going forward.

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