Media Contact

Arianna Fishman, afishman@nyclu.org, 212-607-3372

March 31, 2021

ALBANY – Today, Governor Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) into law, the nation’s most comprehensive policy to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana with equity. New York is now the 15th state to legalize and regulate marijuana for use by adults.

The MRTA is a long-overdue initiative to right a grave, decades-long injustice. Under the MRTA, adults 21 and older will be able to legally possess, transport, purchase, consume, and share up to three ounces of marijuana. The bill removes marijuana and marijuana products from the state Controlled Substances Act, legalizes private cultivation of up to six plants, and eliminates most existing misdemeanors and felonies related to marijuana from the state penal law. The reductions in criminal liability are retroactive: past convictions for crimes reduced or eliminated by the legislation will be expunged from or reduced on the person’s criminal record.

In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from executive director Donna Lieberman:

“At long last, New York will ensure a diverse and inclusive legal marijuana industry and reinvest in the communities of color that have been devastated by the war on drugs, mass incarceration and a legacy of disproportionate arrests for drug possession. The NYCLU will stand with advocates and impacted communities as we begin the necessary work to repair the damage to Black and Latinx New Yorkers whose lives have been needlessly destroyed by racist drug policies across our state for far too long.”