“Don’t be stupid with the taxes. Don’t be stupid with the local control.”
This Wednesday (1/6), Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced a proposal to not just legalize cannabis, but to also offer an equitable program. Sounds good right? It can be. If we take the right steps, New York could be the blueprint on how legalization should be.
The equitable market structure is meant to aid those disproportionally affected by the War on Drugs. In his statement Cuomo said, “Despite the many challenges New York has faced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also created a number of opportunities to correct longstanding wrongs and build New York back better than ever before. Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”
Cuomo is among that special group of politicians who get the holistic benefits. (Well, he is from Queens.) In 2018, he directed the Department of Health, which cosigned the positive effects of cannabis and found that cannabis prohibition is the cause of the harm. A year later, as the avid weed-smokers know, marijuana was decriminalized. Still can’t smoke where you please, though. But, we’re getting to that.
Back in July when Canna Culture Connect spoke to the Last Prisoner Project, co-founder Andrew DeAngelo stated his worry for New York. Based on what he’s seen in Cali, he believes that the entire budget is going to be balanced on the back of the cannabis consumer. And he may be right. If passed, the newly formed Office of Cannabis Management will oversee the states existing medical marijuana program and the recreational one. Meaning, adults 21+ will be able to legally purchase at dispensaries, generating an estimated $300M+ revenue. In 2020, California raked in more than $414M. That 15% tax, boo.
According to Andrew, “There’s this grant money that people in California can access but the red tape on it is unbelievable.” Every town has its own rules, making things much harder than it has to be. Just give these people the money so they can their business in an industry they built.
The social equity community has done a great job, Andrew acknowledges. But, now it’s time to turn it up.
So what needs to be done to make sure the equal stays in equitable? According to Andrew,
- Do not let the local people ban dispensaries or licensing of any kind.
- Allow caps on how much the local people can tax.
If it were up to him, the government can only levy one tax at the end of the supply chain retail and it has to be capped at 2 or 3%. He’s seen many states who didn’t apply a cap, which was just “stupid.” When you don’t put a cap, any ole Joe can tax even 20%, forcing Sally from the block to go back to the legacy market or what we know as, your local budman. Because they’re not in the legal market since it’s expensive as shit, you have to be smart with the taxes and local control.
A state can’t fix laws like 280E, but they can help and ensure a business writes off the state taxes on business expenses. If Andrew were president (hehe) he’d keep the taxed very low, “have a tax holiday at the state level and so that the total tax for the first couple of years at the end is no more than 10% otherwise you can’t compute the legacy market.”
“I worry about New York,” Andrew says, adding “I worry New York’s going to do the same thing California did and the same thing Illinois did — the entire budget is going to be measured on the backs of the cannabis consumer. Then they’re going to let local people ban it, then you’ll have a tiny legal market since 80% would ban,” and 20% would keep things pricier than an appetizer at STK. Cali only has 20% of all cannabis transactions going to legal dispensary with 80% going to legacy market.
The smart thing to do? Andrew says, if New York and California had an interstate compact, New York could import weed from Cali into the legal dispensaries. The Feds may challenge the interstate compact, but it would be one helluva court case to watch. “Everyone’s scared,” so Andrew doesn’t see that happening but New York has potential to be one of the greatest cannabis markets in the world.”
“It should be a vibrant, wonderful, cultural, thriving, practice.” New York deserves that legal integration.
Seriously though, can Andrew be governor? The other Andrew is cool but the DeAngelos get it.