Cannabis Legalization in New York: Déjà vu All Over Again? – Spectrum News

They say three times is a charm.

There are signs that the state legislature and Governor Cuomo will try, for a third time, to pass legislation approving recreational marijuana in the next session, which begins in January.

Four new states, including New Jersey, passed legalization measures on Election Day, which means New York is surrounded on three sides by states that have opened new markets, or will be opening one soon. Plus, a glance at the state’s enormous out-year budget gaps would make even faithful followers of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign reconsider their position.

There are estimates that legalizing recreational cannabis in New York could bring in $300 million in revenue, annually.

But don’t hold your breath.

In advance of the legislative session, the Citizens’ Budget Commission released a report titled, “Getting into the Weeds about Potential Recreational Marijuana Revenues.” One of the primary takeaways from the report is that it will likely take several years before the state realizes those revenues.

“Experience in other states shows that it takes approximately three to four years to realize consistent tax revenues,” said Patrick Orecki, author of the report and Senior Research Associate with the Citizens Budget Commission.

This presumes the legislature and the governor can come to an agreement. 

Among the key obstacles to passage over the last few years have been disagreements about licensure, and questions about how marijuana revenues would be distributed.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger, the sponsors of cannabis legalization legislation, have argued that both the business of selling recreational pot, as well as the revenue realized from those sales, should, at least in part, benefit low-income communities of color.

But in his analysis of marijuana programs in states around the country, Orecki argues the best use of revenues can be found in

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