March 31 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed legislation legalizing, taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana to adults older than 21.
The bill establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to regulate marijuana sales, expands existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs, and creates automatic expungement or resentencing for those with previous marijuana convictions.
"This is a historic day in New York -- one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State's economy and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits," Cuomo said.
Cuomo added the legislation is projected to create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs and $350 million in annual tax collection.
The legislation directs 40% of revenue to communities disproportionately affected by the policing of marijuana sales and use, including funding for schools and public education as well as drug treatment, prevention and education.
It would also create equity programs to provide loans, grants and incubator programs for businesses, set a goal of 50% of licenses going to equity applicants as well as eliminate penalties for possession of less than 3 ounces of cannabis and automatically expunge records for people with previous convictions for decriminalized activities.
Under the bill, New Yorkers will be permitted to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate outside the home and grow three mature plants and three immature plants, with a maximum of six of each per household.
Medical marijuana patients will also be able to grow their own plants at home, while the state will expand the conditions that provide access to medical marijuana.
In addition to record expungement, the state will restructure the marijuana penalty framework to avoid criminalization and reduce penalties for illegal possession and sale.
Marijuana will be added to the clean indoor act which establishes a baseline on where cannabis can be smoked or vaped and the New York State Department of Health will work to evaluate methodologies to detect cannabis-impaired driving and may create and implement rules accordingly.
Municipalities will be able to pass laws allowing them to "opt-out" of allowing dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses by Dec. 31 and implement more restrictive laws on where marijuana can be smoked or vaped.