New York may have no choice but to put a rush on marijuana legalization in the upcoming legislative session. If not, the state could miss out on substantial tax dollars while also exhausting law enforcement resources, according to a recent report from Bloomberg News.
Lawmakers in New Jersey recently revealed a proposal designed to bring a recreational marijuana market to the Garden State. Governor Phil Murphy has been pushing for this reform since taking office at the beginning the year. So it is inevitable that New York residents will soon have the ability to take a short train ride across the state line to get their hands on legal weed. And you better believe this is going to happen. Of course, this puts pressure on state lawmakers to put similar legislation in place. The severity of the situation is compounded by the fact that neighboring Massachusetts, Vermont and Canada have ended marijuana prohibition, as well.
The good news is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had voiced concerns in the past about weed being a gateway drug, is no longer opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational consumption.
Over the summer, the state’s Health Department published a report, which was commissioned by Cuomo, saying, “The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in New York outweigh the negative impacts.”
Since then, Cuomo seems to have developed a more progressive outlook when it comes to the issue. The state is expected to start discussing full legalization in the coming months.
History shows that conflicting adult use laws cause trouble in that part of the country. There was once a time when the legal drinking age was 18 and older in New York, while 21 and older in Jersey. This obviously sent more Jersey kids into New York for booze. A similar outcome is expected if the two states were to maintain differing pot laws.
But more importantly, New York doesn’t want to be in a position of missing out on the millions in annual tax dollars that is waiting to be claimed. Reports have shown that New York could see marijuana sales reaching $3.6 billion within the next few years by simply allowing adults 21 and older purchase weed in a manner similar to alcohol. This means the state would collect approximately $700 million per year in tax revenue. That’s not a bad haul considering the state would also save money by eliminating police resources for the bulk of pot-related crimes.
There are also federal implications associated with New York’s desire to end prohibition.
Some major players in the cannabis industry believe marijuana legalization in New York could be what leads to U.S. government legalizing nationwide. Daniel Yi, a spokesman for MedMen, says pot shops opening up in New York City would open up a more honest dialogue about the subject. This would eventually trickle down to Washington D.C. and inspire change.
“You cannot underestimate the impact that New York particularly is going to have on the legalization conversation,’’ Yi said. “It’s huge.’’
We can expect to get a better feel for New York’s response to marijuana legalization after the November election. By then, it is possible that a bill will have been submitted for review in the 2019 session.