Cuomo signs recreational marijuana bill into law

New York has officially joined the growing list of states that have legalized adult-use recreational marijuana, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signing the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act into law.

The law has wide-ranging implications for virtually all New York businesses, and especially the financial services industry, which will be tasked with providing banking services to marijuana businesses despite the federal prohibition on cannabis.

While parts of the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (S854AA1248A) don’t take effect until 2022, others became effective immediately after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation.

According to the governor’s office, the legislation will establish the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that would cover medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp. The bill will also expand New York state’s existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs. 

Further, the legislation provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers and other actors in the cannabis market and creates a social and economic equity program to assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement who want to participate in the industry, according to the governor’s office.

The New York Credit Union Association has been engaged on the issue of marijuana banking for years, working to ensure credit unions can legally serve the marijuana industry where it is legal to do so. The Association takes no position on the issue of marijuana legalization itself but continues to advocate for a federal framework established through legislation to allow credit unions to serve the industry. In particular, the Association supports The SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1996), which would “create protections for financial institutions that provide financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers for such businesses, and for other purposes.”

The Association is actively engaging its federal lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, on the matter. Additionally, the Association is planning a webinar for next week to review and discuss the New York law. Additional information will be provided in the days ahead.

“As credit unions are aware, the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act will have important implications as both employers and financial institutions,” said William J. Mellin, Association president/CEO. “The Association is continuing to work diligently to ensure credit unions’ best interests are considered as state and federal policymakers lay out an evolving framework for serving the marijuana industry.”

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