New York state seeks people “with experience” to help establish what could become the biggest legal marijuana market in the country. The explanation sounds like a punch line: New York will offer licenses and subsidies to people with marijuana convictions on their records.
New York legalized the possession and use of marijuana for adults last year and created a licensing system to govern eventual sales in brick-and-mortar stores. New Yorkers will even be able to get joints delivered.
The application window for these licenses closes Sept. 26. The state anticipates the first legal dispensaries will open before the end of the year. The size of the legal marijuana market in New York could ultimately be more than $7 billion annually.
Politicians are eager to tax and regulate all this commerce, and the legal marijuana market could be the source of massive new revenue for New York. Many states have already piled excessive taxes on legal weed sales. New York plans an array of taxes, including a complex tax based on the potency of the pot. There will also be rules preventing cannabis businesses from writing off standard expenses. That is in addition to a 9% state sales tax and any local sales taxes that get tacked on.
But what legislators ignore is that all these taxes have the perverse effect of increasing black-market demand. After Prohibition ended, people didn’t continue to buy bathtub gin when legal and safer alcohol was available. But states also didn’t massively increase the price of newly legal alcohol to make bathtub gin more attractive. In New York there is already a $2 billion marijuana black market.
Under the new regulations governing Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary licenses, New York seeks “justice involved individuals” to apply to become licensees. A justice-involved individual is…