New York legalizes recreational marijuana

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the cannabis legislation on Wednesday, a day after the State Legislature passed the bill following hours of debate among lawmakers in Albany.

With his signature, New York became the 15th state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, positioning itself to quickly become one of the largest markets of legal cannabis in the nation.

Previous attempts to legalize marijuana were stymied over disagreements on how the tax revenue from marijuana sales would be distributed. Democratic lawmakers, especially those who are nonwhite, insisted that a large portion of the money be earmarked for communities where Black and Latino people have been disproportionately arrested on marijuana charges; the governor wanted to retain more control over how the money was spent.

The lawmakers prevailed. Forty percent of the tax revenue from pot sales will be steered to those communities, and people with marijuana-related convictions that are no longer criminalized will have their records automatically expunged.