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New York lawmakers reach marijuana legalization deal

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On Wednesday, New York State officials announced that they have reached a deal to legalize recreational marijuana, The Wall Street Journal reported. Assuming all goes according to plan, legalization would come into effect starting next year.

The deal would allow those in the Empire State to buy and possess up to three ounces of marijuana, as well as grow their own plants, according to The Journal.

The reform measures are planned to be taken up next week by the state Assembly and Senate, lawmakers said, per the newspaper. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has proposed legalizing marijuana in the state budget that is due by next week.

MORE ON MARIJUANA: Election 2020 Statewide Referendums: marijuana, mushrooms, wages, state flags, and more

According to the legislation, a 9% state tax would be levied on retail sales that could generate $300 million a year in new revenues, The Journal reported. Furthermore, cities, towns, and villages could impose an additional 4% sales tax or opt out of allowing local sales and deliveries.

MORE ON MARIJUANA: Report: Biden staffers fired for past marijuana use after being told it would be ‘overlooked’

The deal reportedly includes the founding of a new state regulatory agency—the Office of Cannabis Management—to license growers, retail sales, delivery and on-premises consumption. Although, it was unclear when they might actually begin.

Want to get more details about this story? Then read the full Wall Street Journal report here.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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Joe Biden

President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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