New York lawmakers have passed a bill to legalise adult use of marijuana, which will make it the 15th state in the United States to allow recreational use of the drug.
New York’s state Senate passed the bill with 40-23 votes, while the Assembly voted 100-49.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was looking forward to signing the bill into law.
“New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy,” he said in a statement.
The bill’s passage marked an important political victory not only for the sponsors, but also for Cuomo, whose legacy has taken a hit in recent weeks amid allegations of sexual harassment, inappropriate workplace behavior and a cover-up of nursing home deaths.
The decision was also welcomed by NORML, a pro-marijuana group, which said that tens of thousands of New Yorkers were arrested every year over petty marijuana offenses, and that most were young, poor, and people of color.
“The legalization of marijuana is a racial and criminal justice imperative, and today’s vote is a critical step towards a fairer and more just system,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
The New York State’s official website recently projected that tax collections from the adult-use cannabis program would reach $350 million annually and also create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs across the State.
The legislation also allows for limited home grow of three mature and three immature plants; includes equity programs to ensure broad opportunities for participation in the new legal industry; ends penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis; and calls for automatic expungement of records for people with previous convictions for activities that are no longer criminalized.
New York is set to become just the fourth state to pass recreational legalisation through the Legislature, joining Illinois, Virginia and Vermont. Several other states, including New Mexico, Connecticut and Rhode Island, are also looking to pass adult-use legalisation bills this year.