Featured Opinion

Marijuana Tax Revenues Could Deliver $500 Million A Year to New York State

By Tony Farina;

Marijuana is being looked at as a possible source of revenue for states, a remarkable change from its previous status as an evil drug. This week FORBES magazine published an article detailing the economic boon legal recreational marijuana has been to Pueblo, Colorado.

Washington D.C. and nine other states have legalized recreational marijuana (Maine, Vermont, Massachusettes, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Alaska).

Conservative projections of an estimated $500 million a year in initial marijuana tax revenues for New York State could leverage enormous economic impact across the board and help rebuild the state.

The time has come to legalize the sale of marijuana.

Nine other states have taken this step and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states. Other states are poised to take action and according to Arcview Market Research, one of the top market research firms for the cannabis industry, legal marijuana sales were expected to hit $9.7 billion in North America in 2017 (final numbers not available yet).  We need to take marijuana off the black market and cultivate an entrepreneurial economy in New York State instead of crushing our citizens with more onerous taxes to feed the Albany political pipeline.

Based on research recently conducted, an excise tax of 13 percent, in addition to the existing state and local sales taxes, on legal adult marijuana would generate $500 million a year and could finance state bonding of $12.2 billion over five years.

The money generated from legalizing marijuana would go a long way toward dealing with our state’s crumbling roads and bridges and help with the equally daunting challenge of fixing the broken New York City metropolitan transit system.

According to one analysis, every $1 billion spent on infrastructure will create 13,000 jobs directly in construction and among suppliers and thousands more indirectly, leading to more than 244,000 new jobs over seven years.

Legalizing marijuana could be a plan to rebuild New York without continuing to raise taxes. There’s another billion dollars in taxes and fees already projected in the Albany pipeline this year to deal with a deficit estimated of at least $4.4 billion.

Let’s take marijuana off the black market, like other states have, and begin to phase in that new revenue stream and put that money to work for the people of New York.

Legalization of marijuana also has strong public support as a 2017 Gallup Poll showed that 64 percent of Americans favor legalization, with a majority of Republicans backing it for the first time.

Upon the enactment of the cannabis regulation, the governor could ensure – if need be, by the power of the pardon – that all non-violent marijuana convictions are expunged and all individuals currently incarcerated for non-violent marijuana crimes are released as immediately as is practicable.