As reported on December 11, 2018, in Cannabis News: “When Liberty speaks, marijuana players listen. Freedom for all, even for pot smokers. New York Governor Cuomo will introduce a bill for legalizing recreational marijuana.”
Cuomo said in his State of the State speech that he’s including in his budget for the current fiscal year a plan to make cannabis legal for adults over the age of 21. The governor is aiming to create a legal industry that would include minority- and women-owned businesses and create jobs in some of the more economically deprived parts of the state. Ten states have so far legalized cannabis for recreational use, while another 33 have legalized medical marijuana. “Legalize adult-use cannabis,” he said. “Stop the disproportionate impact on communities of color. And let’s create an industry that empowers the poor communities that paid the price and not the rich corporations who come in to make a profit.”
Rob DiPisa, co-chair of the Cannabis Law Group at law firm Cole Schotz, agreed, noting New York’s influential role in many industries, from fashion to business to entertainment. “This will change everything,” DiPisa said. “Once New York enters the market, we’ll see bright young people come in and challenge the industry.”
Cuomo is expecting to generate about $300 million in annual tax revenue from the new business, although he will include an option for counties to opt out of legal sales if they choose. Funds raised would be used to finance a state traffic-safety committee, for small-business development, and for substance-abuse services and other programs.
The governor is proposing to impose a 20% state tax and 2% county tax on transfers of cannabis from wholesalers to retailers, along with a $1-per-gram tax on dry flower for growers and a 25-cents-per-gram tax on trim.
That may put a steep burden on companies operating at the wholesale level, said DiPisa, while Cuomo’s intention to include unionized labor in the new industry is a worthy goal that may add still further costs.
“Having seen what we have on the West Coast when these markets come online, there is typically high demand at the start, followed by oversaturation that can result in way more cannabis than is needed — and so the price falls,” he said.