Pot Legalization May Hold Big Problem For Hudson Valley Counties
The proposed legalization of pot may be good news for the state but is becoming a cause of concern for county officials.
This weekend Governor Cuomo tweeted an announcement that the legalization of pot is coming to New York. An agreement has been made to legalize adult-use cannabis throughout the state. The governor says this landmark legislation is a game-changer.
Too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use & sale of cannabis, arbitrarily arrested & jailed. That time is coming to an end. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.
Depending on what survey you read, more than 60 percent of New Yorkers currently support the legalization of recreational marijuana. If the agreement is signed into law in the next few days, which seems likely, counties will have no say in how it's implemented.
Dutchess County Executive, Marc Molinaro, spoke with The Boris and Robyn Show on Monday about the proposed law and shared his concerns about where all of the tax revenue will be going. The sale of marijuana would be subject to a nine percent state tax and four percent local tax. A 75% cut of that local tax would go directly to the municipality where the dispensary is located, with the remaining 25% going to the county.
Molinaro says that he foresees increased demand for mental health services and other outreach programs after recreational use is legalized, something that he believes wouldn't be completely covered by tax revenue. But according to Cuomo, all state cannabis taxes would be deposited into a special fund that would split the earnings in three ways. 40 percent would go to education, another 40 percent would be used for community grants and the remaining 20 percent will assist with drug treatment and public education.
Distribution of taxes through the state means that counties will certainly get more than just 25% of local taxes to deal with community services, but Molinaro says that he believes local governments would do a better job of distributing those funds instead of leaving it up to the state.
Molinaro says that while he strongly proposes decriminalization of marijuana, he won't go as far as endorsing the recreational use law that's expected to be signed later this week. Whether local counties agree with the law or not, they will have no control over its implementation. Counties cannot "opt-out" of legalized recreational use of marijuana. Local towns and cities, however, would have the power to prohibit sales in their municipalities, but that would result also in forfeiting any share of tax revenue that would come from the state.
Tax revenue from the adult-use cannabis program is projected to reach $350 million annually. An estimated 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs are also expected to be generated across the state.
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