Creating a system to tax and regulate marijuana use by adults over the age of 21 is a sound economic investment for the state of New York. In the states with existing regulated markets, previously static economies have experienced a new small business boom coupled with technological advances that benefit a variety of industries. Additionally, legalization presents an opportunity for New York’s agrarian community to foster the development of a new crop that is sustainable, resilient, and widely consumed. Similar to the rise of New York’s craft wine and beer industries, a regulated marijuana market could also provide opportunities for small businesses in small towns across the state to cultivate a business model that is not reliant on access to large amounts of capital but is instead dependent on local resources as well as their own ingenuity and creativity. Ending prohibition is the SMART choice for New York’s economy because our state is uniquely positioned to reap the financial benefits of reducing the cost of enforcement while also capitalizing on the diversity of our landscape.
Nationwide, the current legal marijuana market’s estimated value is more than $6.6 billion, with recreational sales expected to exceed $10.9 billion by 2025. Illicit sales are estimated at nearly $3 billion for New York State, and an official study by the NYC comptroller in 2013 estimated potential tax revenue for a legal marijuana market in NYC alone would be more than $400 million, acknowledging that the actual revenue could be much higher.