Get high on this: New York government would hit the jackpot if the state legalizes marijuana, according to a report released Tuesday by Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The analysis said the state could generate $436 million annually and New York City $336 million by taxing the sale of marijuana in what would be a $3 billion market.
Stringer said the money generated could be used to aid communities ”most damaged by decades of criminalizing marijuana usage and possession.”
“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 said.
“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.”
The report estimates there are roughly 1.5 million pot smokers throughout the Empire State — including 550,000 in New York City.
That creates a potential market of $3.1 billion statewide for legalized weed, including $1.1 billion in the Big Apple.
The study assumes New York pot smokers would spend about $2,080 a year each to get high, similar to what consumers spend in Washington and Colorado, two states where marijuana sales are already legal.
The study assumes the city would impose the same 25 percent excise tax on marijuana that is currently levied on cigarettes and booze, to generate $336 million.
Stringer envisions the state government combining a 10 percent excise tax and 4 percent sales tax to yield $436 million.
Stringer insisted he’s not blowing smoke.
If anything, he said, his projections are conservative.
The estimates don’t include potential sales to some 970,000 commuters, as well as tourists.
The comptroller’s study comes amid a big push to legalize weed in New York.
Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon has made marijuana legalization a major plank in her campaign.
Her Democratic opponent, two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo, who had previously branded marijuana a “gateway drug” and opposed legalization, in January called for a state study of the issue after neighboring Massachusetts approved the legalization of cannabis last fall and incoming New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy vowed to legalize it in the Garden State.
Cuomo on Monday said the state study on legalization would be released “within days.”
The governor all but said legalization in New York is now a fait accompli.
“To say that it won’t be [legal] in New York, I think is to avoid reality at that point,” said Cuomo, a Democrat.
The New York State Democratic Party is expected to approve a resolution in support of marijuana legalization at its convention May 23-24.
Legislation is pending in Albany, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, that would legalize possession and have it regulated. It is sponsored by Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo).