New York City Comptroller John Liu is calling for the legalization of medical marijuana and possession of up to one ounce per adult for recreational use. Liu, the chief accountant for the city who is also running for mayor, estimates over $400 million in revenue could be gained if recreational marijuana were to be taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.
Liu commissioned a report that finds that New York City has a $1.65 billion marijuana market. If a 20 percent excise tax and the standard 8.875 percent city sales tax is imposed on cannabis sales, it would yield $400 million annually in revenue, Liu supposes. Another $31 million a year could be saved in law enforcement and court costs.
“It is economically and socially just to tax it,” Liu told the Associated Press in an interview recently. “We can eliminate some of the criminal nature that surrounds the drug and obtain revenue from it.”
The comptroller’s plan, which likely will face stiff opposition from state lawmakers who would have to authorize it, seeks for the state to oversee private businesses selling cannabis. Licenses would be required, fees would be charged, and consuming the plant in public or while driving would be prohibited.