Media Contact

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

March 31, 2021

ALBANY – The New York State Senate and Assembly passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), the nation’s most comprehensive policy to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana with equity.

The MRTA is a long-overdue initiative to right a grave, decades-long injustice. If enacted, this legislation would make New York the 15th state to legalize and regulate marijuana for use by adults. 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 will be 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 senior policy counsel Michael Sisitzky:

“New Yorkers have spoken in the streets and at the polls: they demanded that lawmakers dismantle systemic racism, and that begins with how we legalize marijuana. At long last, the bill passed by the legislature 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 time is now for lawmakers in Albany 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. We expect Governor Cuomo to step up, stop the harm and sign the MRTA into law without delay.”