Legal pot will come to New York, cannabis industry experts predict, noting the economic benefits to states and cities.

Indeed, it is inevitable, they add, because, as neighboring states approve legalization, tax hungry New York lawmakers will also want the highs that will come from legalized weed. Indeed, legal pot, says New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer in a report, could generate billions.

The comptroller “estimates the potential market for adult-use marijuana in New York State at roughly $3.1 billion, including approximately $1.1 billion in New York City,” Stringer writes.

And that, Stringer writes, could mean “$436 million annually in new tax revenue from legal marijuana sales, while New York City could garner as much as $335 million.”

The Empire State in 2018

But for many New Yorkers, says a pot industry advocate, legalization is a recognition of life in New York City today.

Hadley Ford, co-founder and CEO of iAnthus Capital, says New York City already has the highest per capita use of pot on a global basis because many people today ignore existing laws.

Pot, which his company helps sell in stores, will eventually be sold everywhere you can buy legal drugs, Ford predicts.

However, for now, New York State only permits the limited use of medical marijuana, but not full legalization, which is on the books in about eight states.

Legalization bills are in the New York State Legislature. However, legislative sources now privately say they are “unlikely” to pass this session.

Slowing Things Down in New York

The problem, these sources say, has been Republican opposition and the governor’s hesitancy in supporting pot legalization.

However, rumors were recently circulating that the state Health Department was about to release a report on marijuana. That might give some lawmakers the justification to embrace legalization.

Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president, already favors legalization but with strong legal controls.

“That,” Adams wrote in a recent op-ed in the New York Post, “can be a real boon to economic development by creating new wealth at the grassroots level.”

Stringer, in a statement, strongly supports legalization. He says legalization is justified.
“The prosecution of marijuana-related crimes has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic communities for far too long,” Stringer says.

“Legalizing marijuana and reclassifying past convictions are critical steps away from failed policies, and the time to take them is now.”

New York Slow Getting Legally High

A cannabis industry observer says New York has been slow to adopt legalization and that it could cost it as other states race ahead.

“States that have legalized and regulated cannabis use will see a boom in jobs created over the next several years,” writes Tom Adams, Arcview market research manager and principal analyst for BD Analytics. The comment came in the report “U.S. Legal Cannabis: Driving $40 Billion Economic Output.”

“In 2016, direct cannabis industry employment across legal cannabis states totaled nearly 89,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. This year, direct industry employment is forecast to rise to more than 121,000 FTEs, with total direct, indirect, and induced employment of more than 171,000 FTE,” he writes.

Despite New York’s reluctance, industry observers predict the rest of the country will embrace legalization.

Weed and the Economy of the United States

Sales of legal pot will contribute to “the equivalent of 414,000 full-time jobs by the year 2021,” Arcview’s Adams predicts.

And iAnthus’ Ford warns that, if New York doesn’t adopt legalization soon, neighboring states will. New Yorkers will go there. New Jersey’s new governor is ready to embrace legalization, Ford notes.

“New York’s lawmakers will have to,” he says. “They’re not going to let all these New Yorkers get on the train to Secaucus and give New Jersey all that tax revenue.”

What I Think

I’m not happy about so many of my neighbors becoming potheads. Indeed, I’m a non-smoker. I gave it up after smoking butts for one week when I was 16. I was, and am, just too cheap to do any of that stuff. In my private affairs I am practically a Puritan. I don’t even drink coffee because I think caffeine is terrible for me. One can imagine what smoking pot, or drinking lots of booze or overeating over the long term, can do to almost anyone.

It can’t be good.

However, I am a libertarian; someone who believes in limited (very) government. I don’t believe in imposing my morality on other people and I certainly don’t think anyone or any government should do the same. I no more like the politically correct of the left than I do the moral majority of the right.

The Blundering of Governments

The government does too many things and consequently does most things badly. A government that can wage so many useless wars—as our government has—has no moral standing to tell people how to live their private lives. It is not only wrong; it is also ineffective. The result of bad and excessive laws often has unintended consequences.

The greatest boon to organized crime in the United States came from prohibition in the 1920s. Prosecuting someone who wants to take a drink or use a weed is illogical. A crime, to me, is Party A doing something bad to Party B. It is not criminal for someone to light up or imbibe. As an adult, your mind and your body belong to you, not to some so-called do gooders who have appointed themselves to save you from yourself.

Well Maybe One More Law

There should an additional right in the Bill of Rights: The right to be left alone. By the way, I believe that the political officials who I quoted for a story I recently did on legalized pot don’t really care about pot and whether it is bad or good.

So why are they pushing for legalization?

They care about these things: Will the policy get them votes and how much money will taxing pot bring in to government coffers. This is additional money that they can then dole out to their political allies, most of whom will contribute to their campaigns.

Most pols, left or right, are frauds, especially those who are careerists and are perpetually grasping for power. They are constantly seeking election or re-election. They will say or support almost anything if it is to their benefit. Certainly, there are exceptions. But, for far too many of the careerist pols of the left or the right, they will support whatever it is that will help them win the next election.

That’s not cynicism. That’s realism. Sometimes the truth may set you free but it also hurts.


Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post.