Photo Courtesy of the City Comptroller’s Office
Comptroller Stringer’s report estimates a potential $1.1 billion adult-use marijuana market for NYC.
By Forum Staff
City Comptroller Scott Stringer this week essentially gave (green) thumbs up to legalizing marijuana in New York.
The Big Apple’s fiscal watchdog released a new report on Tuesday that estimates the potential market for adult-use marijuana in the state at roughly $3.1 billion, including approximately $1.1 billion in the five boroughs alone.
When estimating the potential tax revenues from marijuana sales in New York, the comptroller’s office indicated that it considered the Empire State’s existing tax regime for medical marijuana and the established excise taxes on items like cigarettes, beer, and liquor. By applying tax rates in line with other states that legalized adult-use marijuana sales (Washington, Colorado), New York could reap as much $436 million annually in new tax revenue from legal marijuana sales, while NYC could garner as much as $335 million, according to Stringer’s analysis.
These estimates are “conservative,” Stringer cautioned, in that they ignore the potential impact of some 970,000 workers who work in the city but live outside it, many of whom might purchase marijuana in the city if sales are legalized. They also do not account for the impact of foreign and domestic tourism on New York’s potential marijuana market.
The comptroller also pointed out that legalizing adult-use marijuana could reduce costs for public safety, help mitigate public health problems related to the opioid crisis, and help drive broader economic and social benefits that will accrue after eliminating what Stringer characterized as “a source of harm that has afflicted communities of color for so long.”
Stringer seemed to buttress his assertions by noting that the State Legislature is currently considering a measure that would legalize adult possession, while also creating a process to reclassify past convictions related to marijuana and to re-sentence individuals currently incarcerated as a result of a prior marijuana-related offense.
“This is not just about dollars—it’s about justice. Not only is marijuana an untapped revenue source for the City and the State, but the prosecution of marijuana-related crimes has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic communities for far too long,” Stringer added. “There is simply no reason for New York to be stuck in the dark ages. This new analysis shows just how much New York City and State stand to benefit by moving toward legalization. Legalizing marijuana and reclassifying past convictions would be critical steps towards turning the page on decades of failed policies. This is an opportunity to do what’s right and build up the very communities that criminalization tore down.”