MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS – JULY 29: A federal law is passed allowing recreational marijuana use in New York, July 29, 2017.
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) The New York State Senate on Monday passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.
The bill will now head to Gov.
Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
New York is the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) The Senate passed the bill, which will now go to Cuomo for signature.
The measure would make the use of medical marijuana a class C felony punishable by up to one year in prison.
It would also allow New York to open recreational dispensaries, a process that would begin in 2018.
The legislation is expected to be signed by Cuomo as soon as Tuesday.
“This bill is a first step in a long process to get our state and country back on track,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“We must continue to take a hard look at all approaches, both the federal and state, to achieve this goal.”
Marijuana legalization bills passed in states across the nation have been opposed by the drug war and the police, as well as by states with strict drug laws.
But supporters say the measures are needed to stem the tide of opioid addiction and the opioid epidemic, which has claimed more than 26,000 lives since 2014.
The push has led to calls for legalizing marijuana as a medicine, something that could help relieve the suffering of opioid users.
A bill that would legalize recreational marijuana across the country passed in the U.S. Senate earlier this year.
It also passed the House.
The new measure, SB 846, would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to four ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants.
The state would allow people 21 and over to grow up 10 plants.
Currently, adults who are not a medical marijuana patient or are on medical marijuana are subject to the same penalties as those who use heroin, marijuana and other drugs, including driving under the influence and public intoxication.
The House passed a similar measure in 2017.
But lawmakers in the Senate have struggled to pass a bill that does not create a state-run system of regulated medical marijuana.
The House voted to kill a bill by state Sen. Matt Dababneh (D-Manhattan) in May, arguing that the legislation was too similar to a state program that would allow patients to grow and sell their own marijuana.