The MRTA, or the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act, is arguably the most important governing document of the cannabis industry in New York State. At 128 pages, it lays out the regulatory framework for the state’s legal marijuana industry and reflects a significant milestone in cannabis policy.
The MRTA was signed on March 31, 2021, by former-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It allowed for adults over the age of 21 to use cannabis recreationally, whereas before, it could only be obtained and used for medical purposes under New York’s Medical Marijuana Program, which was established in 2014.
The law not only legalized recreational cannabis but also placed a strong focus on social equity. It recognized the adverse effects of the War on Drugs, particularly on communities of color, and aimed to mitigate the harm caused by decades of prohibition.
As part of this effort, the legislation aims to allocate at least 50% of cannabis business licenses to social equity applicants, including those from communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition, as well as minorities, women, farmers and disabled veterans.
Additionally, the MRTA lays out a tax structure for the legal market: 40% of revenue generated will be used for public education, 40% for community grants reinvestment, and 20% for drug treatment and public health education programs.
Most notably, the MRTA created the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which is the public agency that oversees the licensing, cultivation, and production of cannabis, as well as the distribution, sale, and taxation of it in New York State.
The law also formed the five-member Cannabis Control Board, which is the approval and oversight body over the OCM. There are five board members – three, including the chair, appointed by the governor, one appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate and another appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
The OCM is led by executive director Christopher Alexander and the CCB is chaired by Tremaine Wright, both nominated by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
There is also a Cannabis Advisory Board consisting of 13 voting members, with seven chosen by the governor and the remaining six chosen from the legislature. The board is responsible for making policy recommendations, providing guidance on regulations, and ensuring that the state’s cannabis program remains effective and equitable.
The MRTA also allows for the expungement of certain cannabis-related criminal records, aiming to reduce the long-term consequences of cannabis convictions on individuals’ lives. The legislation permits people with previous convictions for activities now considered legal under the MRTA to apply for expungement, helping to remove barriers to employment, housing, and other opportunities.
You can view the whole article at this link What is the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act?