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Lawmakers in the US have reached an agreement to legalise the sale of recreational marijuana in the state of New York.
At least 14 other states already allow residents to buy marijuana for recreational and not just medical use, but New York's past efforts to pass marijuana had failed in recent years.
Democrats who have the majority vote when it comes to state legislature have made passing it a priority this year, and Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo's administration has estimated legalisation could eventually bring the state about $350 million (£254 million) annually.
Liz Krueger, Senate sponsor of the bill and chairwoman of the Senate's finance committee, said: "My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of colour across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalisation to help heal and repair those same communities."
The legislation would allow recreational marijuana sales to adults over the age of 21, and set up a licensing process for the delivery of cannabis products to customers.
Individual New Yorkers could grow up to three mature and three immature plants for personal consumption, and local governments could opt out of retail sales.
The legislation would take effect immediately if passed but sales would not start immediately as New York sets up rules and a proposed cannabis board. Apparently it could take 18 months to two years for sales to begin.
Adam Goers, a vice president of Columbia Care, a New York medical marijuana provider that is interested in getting into the recreational market, said the proposed system would 'ensure newcomers have a crack at the marketplace' alongside the state's existing medical marijuana providers.
He went on to add: "There's a big pie in which a lot of different folks are going to be able to be a part of it."
New York would set a nine percent sales tax on cannabis, plus an additional four percent tax split between the county and local government.
It would also impose an additional tax based on the level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, ranging from 0.5 cents per milligram for flower to 3 cents per milligram for edibles.
New York would eliminate penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis, and automatically expunge records of people with past convictions for marijuana-related offences that would no longer be criminalised.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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