The imminent passage of New York State’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) will legalize and regulate the cultivation, production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products for adult use in one of the most populous American states. The new law will expand New York State’s existing medical cannabis program and through the implementation of social equity programs, address the collateral consequences of the past criminalization of cannabis.
The passage in 2014 of the Compassionate Care Act opened up the New York market to medical marijuana, and as the popular movement to legalize cannabis for adult use works its way through state legislatures across the country, Harris Bricken is helping businesses navigate rapidly evolving regulation and policy and enter markets in the first wave.
Our newly established New York office, led by Simon Malinowski, provides legal counsel on a full range of New York cannabis law issues. Among other things, we help clients with company formation and structuring, transactional agreements, intellectual property rights, corporate governance, taxation, licensing, and the acquisition and leasing of real estate.
As the market matures, we expect increasing activity in mergers and acquisitions, receivership matters, litigation and general corporate issues, with which we have extensive experience in other U.S. jurisdictions, where since 2010 we have provided counsel on cannabis-related transactional, litigation, regulatory and licensing matters.
New York’s MRTA legislation is expected to allocate revenue generated from legalization of cannabis to investment in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by past criminalization of cannabis. State regulators are expected to direct revenue to public education; job creation, skills development and training; social justice and reentry services for impacted communities; substance use disorder services and mental health services; and other community-based supportive services.
It is also expected that regulators will award 50 percent of adult-use cannabis licenses to individuals in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by past criminalization of cannabis, communities of color, minority- and women-owned business, disadvantaged farmers and service-disabled veterans. Funds are expected to be available for business mentoring, application process assistance, incubator, capital and other social equity programs that will support the long-term success of social and economic equity applicants.
Following the passage of the MRTA, the opportunity for industry growth in New York State, with its population of nearly 20 million, is enormous, and our cannabis attorneys are excited about the prospect of helping our clients build durable legal frameworks for long-term growth and success. To read more about cannabis industry issues in New York and elsewhere, please visit the Canna Law Blog.