SATURDAY AT 7: ALEX PHILIPPIDIS ORIGINAL ANCHOR OF WHITE PLAINS WEEK LOOKS BACK ON THE WHITE PLAINS OF 2001 AND WHITE PLAINS 2021 WITH JOHN BAILEY ON FIOS CH.45 AND OPTIMUM CH 76 AND anytime on www.wpcommunitymedia.org

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ALEX IN ACTION
ON WHITE PLAINS WEEK BACK IN FEBRUARY OF 2OO1.

SATURDAY NIGHT ALEX AND JOHN BAILEY COMPARE WHITE PLAINS THEN AND WHITE PLAINS NOW.

IT WAS 20 YEARS AND LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY AND SO MUCH DIFFERENT THEN THAN IT IS TODAY.

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WEATHER WHITE PLAINS: 54 PARTLY CLOUDY WPCNR DEGREES: SHOWERS TO COME

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Today–Showers, mainly after 3pm. High near 64. South wind 6 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Tonight–Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Patchy fog. Low around 41. South wind 6 to 8 mph becoming north after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.

Thursday–Showers, mainly before 2pm. High near 46. Northwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Thursday Night–A chance of rain showers, mixing with snow after 7pm,

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State Senate PASSES LEGISLATION MAKING ADULT USE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA CONSUMPTION LEGAL IN NYS GOVERNOR LAUDS. NY Builders Express Concern. Governor Signs it Into Law this morning.

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WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the New York State Senate & Governor Cuomo’s Press Office. March 30, 2021 UPDATED MARCH 31, 8:10 A.M. E.D.T., and 1:25 P.M EDT

Last night he New York State Senate Majority passed legislation that will end the prohibition on adult-use marijuana in New York State beginning January 1, 2022, the date when all towns and communities must choose whether they will allow medical and adult-use recreational marijuna retail operations.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued this statement on the occasion:

“Tonight, the New York State Legislature took the first step in a major leap forward for the Empire State by passing legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis. I thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and the many legislators who worked tirelessly on this issue for securing passage of this historic legislation.

“For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public.

“New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”

Brian Sampson, President of the Associated Builders and Contractors Empire State Chapter issued this statement:

“It appears that the New York State Legislature has once again adhered to its strict policy of ‘Ready, Fire, Aim.’ Last night, it passed legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana while knowing, full well, that there are glaring issues with its policy. ABC brought the valid concerns of hundreds of contractors to the governor and members of the Legislature, but they were ignored.

“Of issue to ABC and its membership is the fact that legalized marijuana usage, combined with outdated absolute liability laws – namely the Scaffold Law – put the livelihood of contractors, and the thousands they employ around the state, at risk. At best, the potential ramifications of this combination of policies were overlooked, but in reality, they were completely ignored. ABC is calling on the Legislature to now repeal the Scaffold Law in the budget or during post-budget session to fix this egregious error.”

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, will establish a new office for the regulation of cannabis and decriminalizes the use of adult-use marijuana. 

“There were many important aspects of this legislation that needed to be addressed correctly — especially the racial disparities that have plagued our state’s response to marijuana use and distribution as well as ensuring public safety — and I am proud that through strong collaboration, we have reached the finish line,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Thank you to the Senate sponsor, Senator Liz Krueger, for her tireless efforts to get this legislation advanced and done right. The Senate Democratic Majority is stepping up to give New Yorkers the fair and equitable adult-use marijuana market they deserve.”

Bill Sponsor, Senator Liz Krueger, said, “I am very proud to say that we have finally reached a three-way agreement on legalizing adult-use cannabis in a way that foregrounds racial justice, while balancing safety with economic growth, encouraging new small businesses, and significantly diminishing the illegal market. My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities. I believe we have achieved that in this bill, as well as addressing the concerns and input of stakeholders across the board. When this bill becomes law, New York will be poised to implement a nation-leading model for what marijuana legalization can look like.”

The MRTA creates a new Cannabis Law, and will consolidate the newly-created adult-use cannabis program with the existing medical cannabis program, and the existing cannabinoid hemp program, which will be under the control of the newly created Cannabis Control Board (the Board) and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The Board and OCM will be placed under the State Liquor Authority (SLA), but the SLA has no involvement with the Cannabis program. 

The MRTA creates the framework that will build a regulated industry that will replace the illegal market while also preventing large companies from dominating the market. Additionally, this legislation will establish equity programs that will provide loans, grants, and incubator programs to ensure broad opportunities for participation in the new legal industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition as well as by small farmers.

MRTA will automatically expunge records for people with previous convictions for activities that are no longer criminalized.

  • The penalties for possession start as a violation for three ounces of flower or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis and escalate to a Class D felony for more than 10 pounds of flower or four pounds of concentrated cannabis. 
  • The penalties for sale start as a violation for unlawful sale of any weight of cannabis and escalate to a Class C felony for unlawful sale of over 100 pounds of flower or concentrated cannabis. 
  • The MRTA incorporates impairment by cannabis into the infraction of Driving While Ability Impaired, the lowest degree of Driving While Intoxicated, but otherwise does not change existing law for Driving While Intoxicated. 
  • The MRTA allows the odor of cannabis to be used as reason to suspect that a driver is intoxicated, but prohibits using odor as a justification for searching a car for contraband.

MRTA will establish an Office of Cannabis Management with a board of 5 members – 3 appointed by the Governor and 1 by each legislative house, with the chair subject to Senate confirmation. This legislation will also establish an Executive Director who will be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and a Chief Equity Officer subject to approval by at least 4 members of the board. 

There is also an Advisory Board made up of 13 members, 7 appointed by the Executive, 6 by the Legislature, with commissioners of DEC, DOH, OASAS, and the Attorney General as ex-officio non-voting members. The Advisory Board members must have balanced statewide geographic representation and be diverse in its composition. The appointed members are required to have expertise in several fields relating to health, social equity, and the cannabis and agricultural industries. 

The Cannabis Advisory Board will represent a broad range of communities of interest, which will be responsible for approving grants from the Community Reinvestment Fund as well as making policy recommendations and reporting on the state of the cannabis program. MRTA grants the Office of Cannabis Management powers to evaluate license applicants using a broad range of metrics, including social equity status, commitment to environmentally sound policies, public health, and fair labor practices. It also expands the medical cannabis program allowing for additional licensees, expanded patient access, and a broader range of product types and allows current Registered Organizations limited access to the adult use market in exchange for licensing fees that will help fund equity programs. 

The legislation prohibits vertical integration for all other licensees except micro-businesses, and the Registered Organizations currently operating in the Medical program, to protect the retail sector from being controlled by larger cannabis producers, and establishes a goal of 50% of licenses going to equity applicants. This legislation will allow limited homegrow of three mature and three immature plants for both medical patients and in the adult use program, subject to regulation by the Office of Cannabis Management. 

The MRTA provides funding for training drug recognition officers and expands traffic safety protections, including the development of roadside testing technology and is subject to appropriations. Allows for localities to opt out of retail sales at the city, town, and village level. Sets a 9% sales tax on cannabis, plus an additional 4% tax split between the county and city/town/village, plus an additional tax based on THC content as follows: 0.5 cents per milligram for flower, 0.8 cents per milligram for concentrated cannabis, and 3 cents per milligram for edibles.

Powers of the Board and OCM:

  • The Board is responsible for creating the regulations for each of the cannabis programs and the Office of Cannabis Management is responsible for implementing these regulations. 
  • The Chair approves licensing and permit recommendations made by the OCM staff, and other Board members would have 14 days to object to any such decision. 
  • The Board is also responsible for regulating the packaging and advertising of cannabis products, as well as overseeing the issuance of certain special permits. 
  • The OCM is responsible for managing the licensing of entities wanting to participate in the various Cannabis programs. 

Social Equity:

There is a goal of 50% of licenses being issued to social equity applicants involved in the adult-use program.  Extra priority is given to applicants impacted by the war on drugs, who are low-income and who have, or a close relative has, a marijuana-related conviction. Preferences for licensing are also granted for licensees that set out a plan for benefiting communities and people disproportionately impacted by enforcement of cannabis laws. 

Social Equity Applicants include: 

  • Applicants are from communities that have been impacted by cannabis prohibition; 
  • Women-owned businesses; minority-owned businesses; 
  • MWBEs; 
  • Distressed farmers; or service-disabled veterans. 

In evaluating applications from entities with 25 or more employees, the OCM must give priority to applicants that have peace labor agreements in place, or use union labor to construct its licensed facility. The Board will also have the power to review all licensees two years into the program, to determine whether any one licensee has gained a large control of the market and is undermining the aim of providing business opportunities to as many equity licensees as possible

Adult-Use Licenses:

The Adult-use program envisions a number of license types, with the main license types being: 

  • Adult-use cultivator licenses, for those farming cannabis. 
  • Adult-use processor licenses, for those converting raw cannabis into various products, such as tinctures, concentrates, edibles, smokable products, etc. These licensees are also responsible for labelling products, including with the amount of THC present. 
  • Adult-use distributor licenses, for those who would wholesale and distribute products between the processors and the retail licensees. Distributors are also responsible for collecting and remitting the THC based tax.. 
  • Adult-use dispensaries, responsible for the direct sale of cannabis products to individuals for personal use. These licensees are also responsible for collecting and remitting the retail taxes.
  • Adult-use consumption sites, which are retail locations that also allow individuals to use cannabis products at the location. 

Additional Licenses:

  • Adult-cooperative license, which would allow for groups of individuals to form cooperatives that could cultivate and process cannabis products; 
  • Nursery license, which allows someone to grow immature plants and sell them to other cannabis licensees; 
  • A delivery license, which allows a business to make direct at home deliveries from retail locations; and
  • A microbusiness license. A microbusiness license would allow the holder to cultivate, produce, and retail their own cannabis products but such licensees would be severely limited in their size.

The MRTA attempts to follow the 3-tier model seen in the alcohol market, in which there is meant to be a division between those who create the products, those wholesaling the products, and those retailing products. Someone with a microbusiness license can both cultivate, process, and dispense their own products, but these are meant to be very small licenses. Someone who obtains a cultivator license can also gain a processor license, and a distribution license, but they would only be able to distribute their own products. Additionally, someone with a processor license but does not have a cultivator license can also obtain a distribution license, but they can only self-distribute. 

Medical cannabis is currently provided by several registered organizations, referred to as RO’s. To be part of the medical cannabis program, these ROs were required to carry out all three tiers, which is commonly called being “vertically integrated.” MRTA will allow these RO’s to enter the adult-use market in two ways. After paying a special fee set by the Board they would enter with limited vertical interaction and would be allowed to have up to three co-located (adult-use and medical) retail locations of their own, but also have the ability to distribute their own products to all other retail dispensaries. The RO’s can also obtain a license that will grant them the ability to distribute, cultivate and process but they will only be allowed to distribute their own products.  The RO’s are required to have a maintenance of effort in manufacturing/dispensing/researching medical cannabis, to ensure they continue operating in the Medical program  if they choose to enter into the adult-cannabis program.

Cannabinoid Hemp:

The Cannabinoid hemp program created in 2019 would shift from being under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture and Markets to being under the supervision of the OCM. The only change made to this program is to allow for the sale of cannabis hemp flower products. Sales of these products would be limited to those over 21 years old, and any products meant to be smoked would have to be sold at adult-use cannabis dispensaries.

Medical Cannabis Program:

The administration of the Medical program is being moved from the Department of Health to the OCM. 

The program is also being expanded which includes:

  • Expanding the list of conditions eligible for Medical Cannabis and allows practitioners to prescribe for any other appropriate condition,
  • Allows for medical cannabis to be grown “outdoors,” 
  • Expands possession limits of Medical Cannabis to a 60-day supply (current law is 30 days), 
  • Creates a new “designated caregiver facility” designation to allow for facilities to administer medical cannabis to patients/residents, 
  • Allows for up to 4 patients per designated caregiver, and removes the restriction on “smoking” medical cannabis and allows for a greater selection of medical cannabis products.

In addition, Medical Patients will be able to begin “home-grow” within 6 months of the enactment of the bill and designated caregivers will be able to grow on behalf of their patients.

Local Opt-Out:

  • Cities, towns, and villages would be given the option to opt-out from having adult-use dispensaries and/or adult-use social consumption sites located in their communities. 
  • The opt-out would take the form of a vote by the governing body passing a local law opting out. Any such local law would be eligible for a permissive referendum, meaning that those who oppose such a law would have an opportunity to gather enough signatures to require a referendum to be held on the issue. 
  • Any opt out laws would have to be passed by December 31, 2021 or within 9 months of the effective date of this legislation, whichever is later.

Home Grow of Cannabis:

  • The MRTA allows individuals to conduct home growing of cannabis plants. The current agreement allows each person to grow up to three mature plants and three immature plants, whether it be indoors or outdoors. 
  • There is also a maximum number of plants per household of six mature and six immature plants, for a total of twelve plants. Regardless of the number of plants they have, there is a five pound maximum possession limit at home for individuals.
  • Localities would be able to create regulations around home grow, though they could not ban it. 
  • The Board will also be able to issue regulations on certain unsafe growing practices that would be banned. 
  • For patients in the medical cannabis program, the ability to home grow would begin six months after the effective date of this legislation. 
  • Adult-use home grow would be authorized eighteen months after the opening of the first adult use dispensaries, in order to give the regulated cannabis market a chance to develop.

Criminal Penalties and Vehicle and Traffic Law Issues:

The MRTA establishes a new range of criminal penalties for unlawful possession and sale of cannabis, which have been agreed to by the Executive. 

  • The penalties for possession start as a violation for three ounces of flower or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis and escalate to a Class D felony for more than 10 pounds of flower or four pounds of concentrated cannabis. 
  • The penalties for sale start as a violation for unlawful sale of any weight of cannabis and escalate to a Class C felony for unlawful sale of over 100 pounds of flower or concentrated cannabis. 
  • The MRTA incorporates impairment by cannabis into the infraction of Driving While Ability Impaired, the lowest degree of Driving While Intoxicated, but otherwise does not change existing law for Driving While Intoxicated. 
  • The MRTA allows the odor of cannabis to be used as reason to suspect that a driver is intoxicated, but prohibits using odor as a justification for searching a car for contraband.

Vehicle and Traffic Law:  Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) will be allowed to use enhanced field testing techniques to determine if a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. In addition, the Senate has proposed funding a study to develop accurate saliva testing, which would then be automatically implemented once the Department of Health has certified its accuracy. This would be in addition to the funding included in the MRTA to increase the number of DREs in the state. 

Taxation of Adult Use Cannabis:

The MRTA would impose taxes on adult use cannabis as follows: a distributor would pay the following tax based on the per milligram amount of THC (per a lab analysis and as labeled):

  • 0.5 cents ($0.005) for cannabis flower
  • 0.8 cents ($0.008) for cannabis concentrate
  • 3.0 cents ($0.03) for edibles

In addition, a 9% tax is added upon retail sale, which goes to the State, and another 4% tax is added upon retail sales, which goes to the localities (1% goes to the County, and 3% is divided at the local level based on retail sales). 

If a village and town both opt in and the retailer is located in the village, then the 3% is split between the town and revenue either per an agreement between the two, or is otherwise split 50-50.

Cannabis Revenues and their Use:

All revenue raised from the sale of adult-use and medical cannabis would go into a new Cannabis Revenue Fund. Cannabis-related expenses of the Department of Taxation and Finance, the Office of Cannabis Management, the Cannabis Control Board, Urban Development Corporation (UDC), DCJS, SUNY, State Police, OCA, would come out of the Cannabis Revenue Fund, subject to appropriation. Other purposes paid for from the Cannabis Revenue Fund include the hiring and training of additional DREs and for an incubator program (through the UDC) to give social equity access applicants the necessary application and business management skills necessary.

Remaining revenues would flow into three funds:

  • 40% to the State Lottery Fund for Education.
  • 20% to the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund, which would finance additional drug treatment programs,school-based prevention, early intervention, and health care services and programs, as well as public health campaigns to teach the public about responsible cannabis use.
  • 40% to the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which would be used to further support the social and economic equity program as established by the Board.

The Community Grants Reinvestment Fund is administered by the Advisory Board. The money in this fund would be used for grants for qualified community-based organizations and approved local government entities to reinvest in communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies. 

The categories of approved uses include: 

  • Job placement; 
  • Job skills services; 
  • Adult education; 
  • Mental Health treatment;
  • Substance use disorder treatment; 
  • Housing; Financial literacy; 
  • Community banking; Nutrition services; 
  • Services to address adverse childhood experiences; 
  • After School and Child Care services;
  • System navigation services; and legal services to address barriers to reentry (including for expungement, vacatur and resentencing).

Every February 1, the OCM produces a report detailing how the funds were utilized and must include:

  • The amount of money disbursed and how;
  • The recipients that received awards and how much they received;
  • The purpose of the award; and
  • A summary financial plan including estimates of all receipts.
A marijuana retail outlet

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BIDEN ADMINISTRATION DOT GREEN LIGHTS NYC CONGESTION PRICING

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WPCNR WHEELS AND RAILS. Statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. March 30, 2021:

“This morning we received word from the Biden Administration that the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow New York State to proceed with the federally required Environmental Assessment and public outreach for the nation’s first congestion pricing program in New York City.

“Congestion pricing is an internationally proven method to reduce traffic congestion, enhance the availability and reliability of public transportation, and improve our air quality, and it will play a critical role as New York and the nation begin to recover from the pandemic and build back stronger and better than before. This advancement is also another step forward in generating the $15 billion the state needs to fund the MTA’s five-year $51.5 billion capital plan, which will transform the accessibility, reliability and convenience of the system for users of all ages and abilities.

“We thank President Biden and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for advancing this important program, and we look forward to continuing to work together to further advance our nation-leading $306 billion infrastructure plan, which is preparing the State to be globally competitive for generations to come. This announcement, which comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that the Biden Administration has approved a plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind nationwide by 2030, demonstrates once again the commitment of our new partners in Washington to support our efforts to move New York in the right direction.

THE EMPIRE STATE EXPRESS of DAYS GONE BY
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JOHN BAILEY’S TUESDAY WVOX 1460 REPORT: FOR THE RECORD

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Good morning from White Plains New York USA where it is 50 degrees on spring break week for White Plains schools and just so they do not get out of the back to school routine the 9th and 12th grades started last week and to give our happy schoolers preparing to go back to school April 5 the academic mood—-

The White Plains Democratic City Committee is sponsoring a $500 essay contest for White Plains High Schoolers from public, private and religious schools. 

The top three winners will get to have lunch with District 17 Congressman Mondaire Jones.  First prize is $500, Second prize, $250, Third Prize $100.

The topic of the essay: Write your own Inaugural Address.

What would your Inauguration Address be like if you were elected President of the United States?

You have just been elected President of the United States. Write your own Inaugural Address setting forth your vision of America and your goals for the country. Include any specific  proposals you want to make.

Your address should be no more than 1,000 words.

The essay should be emailed no later than midnight April 26  to:

whiteplainsessaycontest@gmail.com

Essays must be original.

Include your student name  address and email, school and telephone number.

The first week of five day a week in person classes for 12th and 9th grades kindergarten at 5 elementary grades wet wonderfully according to Superintendent of Schools, Dr.  Joseph Ricca.

On the streets,

White plains has installed the HAWK warning system suspended above Main Street  where it is two way traffic at at Lexington Avenue. The lights are for motorists entering the intersection to be warned to stop when a pedestrian is in the pedestrian cross walk. it is for the motorist, not the pedestrian. This is another effort in the White Plains Share the Streets policy. it is not clear whether this will be extended to other two ways in the city like Post road, Hamilton, Maple or  the worst intersection for pedestrians Mamaroneck and Bryant Avenues.

Last week, the question was whether covid infections were plateauing or flattening.

The numbers on covid infections through Sunday the last two weeks provided by the state leave no doubt.

Covid infections are going up at a 4.1% rate of infection in Westchester County which leads the Mid-Hudson region in new cases, and more persons are getting covid more often around the county the last month.

You can tell by the number of infections daily the last two weeks centered of course in the most populated areas but also with cause for concern– spreading to the lesser populated towns.

People are relaxing their guard against covid and perhaps socializing irresponsibly.

Yonkers had 327 new cases each day the last two weeks through March 28.

New Rochelle 140 a day

Mount Vernon 126 a day

White plains 68 a day

Port Chester up to 63 new cases a day

Mamaroneck, Mamaroneck Township and Larchmont, 48 new daily cases a day combined.

Yorktown, 47 a day

Mount Pleasant, 42 a day

Cortlandt, 38 a day

Somers, 37 a day

The Ossinings, 36 a day combined

Rye City and Rye Brook, 36 a day combined

Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, 32  New cases a day combined

In total the last two weeks, these areas experienced 1,040 new cases of covid in Westchester County the last two weeks.

This is showing the effects of the 400 new positive cases a week the county has been experiencing the last month. In the last two weeks. Westchester has seen 1,045 new cases of Covid, and Westchester leads by far the other seven counties in the Mid Hudson Region.

The 1,045 new positives in the last two weeks, at a hospitalization rate of 4.3% may yield 45 new hospitalizations in Westchester in two weeks.

The rate of covid spread is not plateauing or flattening. It is growing. Please socialize responsibly.

See you next week.

JOHN BAILEY
THE CITIZENETREPORTER

IS HEARD TUESDAYS AT 7:50 A.M. ON WVOX 1450 AM AND WVOX.COM WORLDWIDE WITH DENNIS AND TONNY, “THE NICEST TWO PEOPLE ON THE RADIO” GOOD MORNING WESTCHESTER

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 504 Tested Positive Covid Saturday—highest daily new positives since mid-February.  2,942 Persons Test Positive 420 new cases each day in a week. VAXES THE ELIXIR: In 3 Weeks 50% of County could be Fully Vaccinated.

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WPCNR CORONAVIRUS REPORT. From NY Covid Tracker. Westchester Covid Tracker and NY Vaccine Tracker. News and Comment by John F. Bailey. March 29, 2021:

As testing of Westchesterites stepped up above the 12,000 tests administered a day level, the number of positives rose breaching the 500 new cases a day, highest since mid-February.

On Saturday, March 27, Westchester County tested 12,893 persons for Coronavirus and 504 tested positive. The 504 new cases on Saturday was the highest total since February 11 (520 positives) and February 12 (511)

The number of total tests conducted from March 27 back to last Sunday March 21 was 72,300, with 2,942 persons testing positive, putting Westchester County at an average infection rate of 4.1%..

When you test more, more cases are found and that is what happened March 24, last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with 1,841 testing positive of 49,667 testing positive. 3.7%.

The number of new Covid cases per day  increased by 100 in four days of over 12,000 tests.

The Covid Week in Numbers:

Saturday, March 27: 12,893 Tested, 504 Positive, 3.9% Infection Rate.

Friday, March 26: 12,247 Tested. 492 Positive, 4% Infection Rate

Thursday, March 25: 12,196 Tested. 441 Positive. 3.6% Infection Rate

Wednesday: March 24. 12, 331 Tested. 404 Positive. 3.3% Infection Rate

Tuesday, March 23: 8,543 Tested. 375 Positive. 4.4% Infection Rate

Monday, March 22:  6,727 Tested. 354 Positive. 5.3% Infection Rate

Sunday, March 21: 7,363 Tested. 372 Positive. 5.1% Infection Rate

As I observed on the White Plains Week television report Friday evening which you can see tonight at 7 PM on Fios Channel 45 and Optimum Ch. 76 in White Plains:

The only Covidbarometer is the NY State Covid Tracker, AND THE WESTCHESTER COVID DASHBORD  which has a double-edged sword: when it shows lower percentage of new covid cases, the covid cases are usually in much higher numbers of tested persons, so you get a false sense that infection rate is dropping. That is not the case. Watching this barometer for weeks, I note that the Westchester County new infections daily continue to approach 400 new infections a day, ( hitting 504 on Saturday)The more infections, the more possibility of spreading the virus, and sabotaging the “recovery.” See the wild swings of infections positives per day. The orange curve shows the number of tests over the last 2-1/2 months and the little blue lines, the number of covid positives. The blue bar curve shows the new infections for the beginning of the pandemic and the other blue wave graph shows the last 2-1/2months, you can click on each bar to see infections in the number of tests. Look at the largest areas of the county and how they lead in infections the last two weeks: White plains has 293 new cases the last 2 weeks, 40 new cases. highest we’ve been in a while. Yonkers 99 new cases a day, Mount Vernon, 27 new cases a day, New Rochelle 33 new cases a day, Greenburgh, 12 new cases daily, Harrison, 12… the Tarrytowns, Mamaroneck and Larchmont, New and North Castles, Rye and Port Chester continue to show growth. Are they flattening or plateauing? On this chart you can see how the blow of the blue line of positives is gaining since February 1. This is particularly ominous because we are experiencing “Reopening Virus.” Everyone wants to get out and socialize. Go to religious services again. Go to restaurants, movies, concerts, and get back to work. Even schools where the least infections have occurred are reopening. With the family get-togethers over the religious holidays coming up and the mid-March infections turning into hospitalizations, What Dr. Anthony Fauci is seeing nationally MAY now happen here. The latest numbers out yesterday on Westchester County show it: On Monday, the 22nd 6,727 tests were administered in Westchester County, and 354 tested positive, an infectionrate of 5.3% the highest in a week. But-but, there were only 6,727 tests administered. You test 12,000, and the infection rate goes down to perhaps 3.5% but, that means you get 420 infections, 65 more with a lower infection rate. The more you test, the more you see how good or how bad a job the local cities and towns are doing in encouraging masking, and social distancing. The more you see the egregious negligence of not masking and social distancing, and socializing responsibly. VACINATIONS catching up to the irresponsible infection rate. The rapid rate of vacinations in Westchesters 3 vaccination centers and pop-up locations and pharmaceutical outlets is the key factor in Westchester recovery. It is going well. On Friday County Executive George Latimer said in his Covid Briefing that 22,000 arebeing vaccinated each day. At this rate of 22,000 a day getting vaccines, 154,000 may get their second shot and may be fully vaccinated in 3 weeks receiving second shots,which would bring the county up to 35% fully vaccinated, on target for perhaps 52% fully vaccinated by the end of April. According to the New York State Vaccine Tracker this morning, 181,893 Westchester persons have been fully vaccinated, 19% of the total County population with 320,926 awaiting their second shot. So, if all got their second shot by the end of April or by early May, the county could have more than half its population, 502,819 (52%) fully vaccinated.
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MIDNIGHT MARIJUANA. LEGALIZATION DETAILS ANNOUNCED BY GOVERNOR CUOMO, SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS, ASSEMBLYMAN HEASTIE. 9% Sales Tax on Adult Sales from NEW Marijuana outlets. COMMUNITIES CAN OPT-OUT BY DEC. 31. 2021. Agreement Hailed. Counties,municipalities share the tax. OFFICE OF CANNIBIS MANAGEMENT ESTABLISHED. Still Cannot Smoke marijuana while driving.

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MAGGIE’S FARM AND EMERALD FIELDS COLORADO SPRINGS, CO.
TWO LEADING RETAIL MARIJUANA STORE CHAINS

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Press Office. March 27, 11:56 P.M.:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie late Saturday night announced an agreement on legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) to legalize adult-use cannabis.

The bill would establish the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that would cover medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp.

The bill would also expand New York State’s existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs.

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 that want to participate in the industry.

The development of an adult-use cannabis industry in New York State under this legislation has the potential to create significant economic opportunities for New Yorkers and the State. Tax collections from the adult-use cannabis program are projected to reach $350 million annually. Additionally, there is the potential for this new industry to create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs across the State.

“For generations, too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use and sale of adult-use cannabis, arbitrarily arrested and jailed with harsh mandatory minimum sentences. After years of tireless advocacy and extraordinarily hard work, that time is coming to an end in New York State,” Governor Cuomo said. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis isn’t just about creating a new market that will provide jobs and benefit the economy — it’s also about justice for long-marginalized communities and ensuring those who’ve been unfairly penalized in the past will now get a chance to benefit. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”

“There were many important aspects of this legislation that needed to be addressed correctly — especially the racial disparities that have plagued our state’s response to marijuana use and distribution as well as ensuring public safety — and I am proud we have reached the finish line,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Thank you to the Senate sponsor, Senator Liz Krueger, for her tireless efforts to get this legislation advanced and done right. I am glad we are stepping up to give New Yorkers the fair and equitable adult-use marijuana market they deserve.”

“When we decriminalized adult use of marijuana in 2019, the Assembly Majority knew that legalization had to be done the right way – in a way that would help not harm our communities that have been devastated by the state’s drug laws,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “This bill will do that and I thank Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for her tireless efforts. The MRTA does not just legalize the adult use of marijuana, but it rights decades of disproportionately targeting people of color, ensures they are included in the legal marijuana industry and reinvests in education and in communities that have been harmed.”

“For years I have been working toward legalizing marijuana in a way that ensured a safe product, that we would be able to invest in the lives of people who suffered as a result of mass incarcerations, and to allow us to invest in our communities,” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said. “I have been committed to getting this done correctly and justly. I believe that the MRTA does all of those things.” 

The New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act contains the following provisions:

Establish the Office of Cannabis Management

The Office of Cannabis Management would be charged with enforcing a comprehensive regulatory framework governing medical, adult-use cannabinoid hemp. It would be governed by a five-member board, with three members appointed by the Governor and one appointment by each house. OCM would be an independent office operating as part of the New York State Liquor Authority.

Medical Cannabis

The agreement would allow people with a larger list of medical conditions to access medical marijuana, increase the number of caregivers allowed per patient, and permit home cultivation of medical cannabis for patients.

Adult-Use Cannabis

The agreement would create a two-tier licensing structure that would allow for a large range of producers by separating those growers and processors from also owning retail stores. The legislation creates licenses for producers and distributors, among other entities, and the legislation will implement strict quality control, public health and consumer protections.

Interior of a major marijuana retail establishment

A social and economic equity program would facilitate individuals disproportionally impacted by cannabis enforcement, including creating a goal of 50% of licenses to go to a minority or woman owned business enterprise, or distressed farmers or service-disabled veterans to encourage participation in the industry.

OTC MARIJUANA DISPLAY

The Bill proposes a new cannabis tax structure that would replace a weight-based tax with a tax per mg of THC at the distributor level with different rates depending on final product type.

The wholesale excise tax would be moved to the retail level with a 9 percent state excise tax. The local excise tax rate would be 4 percent of the retail price. Counties would receive 25% of the local retail tax revenue and 75 percent would go to the municipality.

Cannabinoid Hemp

The agreement would permit the sale of hemp flower in the cannabinoid hemp program, and allow for smokeable forms only when adult use retail stores are operational.

Adult-Use Cannabis Tax Revenue

All cannabis taxes would be deposited in the New York state cannabis revenue fund. Revenue covers reasonable costs to administer the program and implement the law. The remaining funding would be split three ways:

  • 40 Percent to Education
  • 40 Percent to Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
  • 20 Percent to Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund

Municipal Opt-Out

Cities, towns, and villages may opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021 or nine months after the effective date of the legislation. They cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.

Traffic Safety

The New York State Department of Health will work with institutions of higher education to conduct a controlled research study designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving. After completion of the research study, DOH may create and implement rules and regulations to approve and certify a test for the presence of cannabis in drivers.

The legislation includes additional funding for drug recognition experts and law enforcement to ensure safe roadways.

The use of cannabis by drivers will remain prohibited.

Personal Possession and Home Cultivation

The following conditions apply to growing cannabis at home and personal possession of cannabis outside the home:

  • Personal possession outside of the home: up to 3 ounces cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • Home possession: Amending limits of what is permitted in the home, which must be kept in a secure location away from children
  • Home grow: permitted under the bill subject to possession limits in 18 months for adult recreational use and subject to regulations of the Medical Program being promulgated no sooner than 6 months:
    • 3 mature plants and 3 immature plants for adults over 21
      • 6 mature plants and 6 immature plants maximum per household

Criminal Justice and Record Expungement

The cannabis penalty framework would be restructured to avoid the criminalization seen in prohibition. Reduced penalties would be implemented for possession and sale.

  • Creates automatic expungement or resentencing for anyone with a previous marijuana conviction that would now be legal under the law and provides necessary funding
  • Adds cannabis to the clean indoor air act which establishes a baseline on where cannabis can be smoked or vaped
  • Municipalities and local governments are permitted to make laws that are more restrictive than the CIAA. Contains various provisions to ensure that cannabis is treated as a lawful substance and to prevent discriminatory enforcement

Protections for the Use of Cannabis and Workplace Safety

Unlawful discrimination would be prohibited and workplace safety protections would be implemented.

Public Health and Education Campaign

OCM will establish a robust public health and education campaign and work with neighboring states and associations to coordinate actions and policies to protect regional health and safety.

(Editor’s Note: To WPCNR knowledge, no news conference was held to announce the agreement and take questions about the details behind these details not mentioned: such as the cost of licenses for producer and retail stores; whether marijuana entrepreneurs could assemble a chain of marijuana store outlets would be permitted’ existence or no existence of price controls; enforcement of black market marijuana sales and enforcement prohibited from youth under 21; whether persons with long history of black market drug sales (drug dealers) are prohibited from owning retail outlets; IF liquor stores could also be licensed to sell marijuana in the same store; whether existing Vape and tobacco outlets would be granted licenses under certain circumstances; whether legalization of other illegal drugs is being considered in the future by legislators and the governor; whether advertising on television, radio, would be permitted, promoting the sale of adult use marijuana outlets; whether the legislature is perhaps considering legalizing prostitution, for example. )