Montel Williams joins Senator Montgomery and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes at the "From Prisons to Pot: Marijuana Legalization & Revisioning New York State’s Economy" Workshop

Senator Montgomery with Montel Williams.

As part of the NYS Assn. of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc.'s 47th Annual Legislative Conference, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes sponsored the "From Prisons to Pot: Marijuana Legalization & Revisioning New York State’s Economy" Workshop with special guest Montel Williams. The workshop addressed the health benefits of medical marijuana and explored legalization through a criminal justice and economic lens.  

Senator Montgomery is proud to co-sponsor the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S. 3040). The bill is sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes and would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to New York’s current treatment of alcohol.

The legislation would:

  • Remove penalties for possession of 2 ounces of marijuana or less;
  • Makes 18 the minimum legal age for marijuana possession and consumption;
  • Establishes that smoking marijuana in public and possession of marijuana by persons under the age of 18 are violations;
  • Allows for home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants;
  • Empowers the State Liquor Authority to grant licenses for marijuana production, transport and retail sale;
  • Prohibits sale of marijuana to persons under 21;
  • Allows communities to opt out of retail sale for off-premises consumption through a referendum process similar to what is now in place for alcohol sales;
  • Allows communities to opt in to allow retail sales for on-premises consumption through a vote of the local legislature, in addition to the local community board in the case of New York City;
  • Establishes an excise tax of $50.00 per ounce of marijuana, and authorizes localities to charge a sales tax on retail sales; and
  • Directs a portion of the state tax revenue collected to be directed to re-entry programs, substance abuse programs, and job training programs in low-income, high-unemployment communities.


In 2014, New York became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana. Patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, neuropathies, Huntington's disease and PTSD are now eligible for medical marijuana.  

Senator Montgomery continues her visionary leadership to spotlight issues important to her constituents and to build coalitions to create institutional change in our state. After the passage of “Raise the Age” reform last year, Senator Montgomery now turns the spotlight on the issue of marijuana legalization as a means to end mass incarceration, revitalize the economy in Upstate New York and provide an alternative to the use of opioids for pain relief.

For more information about the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), visit: