ALBANIA – The Cuomo government is planning a “controlled rollout” of the New York marijuana marketplace to protect communities from having “cannabis vendors on every corner,” according to a planning official.
Axel Bernabe, the governor’s assistant attorney, said the state is trying to get feedback from communities hardest hit by criminal enforcement of the state’s marijuana ban.
At a Zoom meeting with district leaders from across New York, Bernabe admitted that the state will face challenges as it moves from the ban period to a time when marijuana use is viewed as a public health issue. A five-person cannabis control panel will set the vision of a licensing framework for dealers and retail stores.
Daily supervision would be carried out by the Cannabis Management Office. It would help develop what is known as a social and economic justice plan. Its headquarters would be in Albany, with satellite offices in Buffalo and New York City. This agency would also work with a 13-member cannabis advisory board.
“The tax revenues are to be reinvested in the communities and districts as well as in the places that are disproportionately affected by the criminalization of drugs,” said Bernabe. “These communities will receive 40% of the money they receive” through taxes on marijuana products.
The Cannabis Advisory Board will make recommendations on the grants that will be given to communities and organizations within them.
$ 350 MILLION REVENUE
If the regulated sale of marijuana is allowed in New York, it is expected to have annual sales of $ 350 million. Of that, 40% will go to education, while another 40% will go to the reinvestment fund for community grants to help the communities hardest hit by the ban, he said.
The other 20% would be used for drug treatment and a nationwide awareness campaign.
At the point of sale, the state would levy a 9% excise tax, along with a 4% sales tax that would go to local governments, of which 1% would go to the county.
New York will also have what Bernabe calls a “unique tax” at the end of the distribution. It would be based on the potency of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis.
The goal, he said, is “hopefully not to promote high-THC products and incentivize lower-THC products,” he said.
Bernabe said the state is preparing to deal with a segment of marijuana users who “have difficulty regulating their use.” This group is estimated to be around 10% of all users.
“These are the people we want to reach and help,” he said. “Instead of locking them up, we want to get them back on track and get community support.”
The legislation provides grants for non-profit organizations as well as for “accredited local government agencies”. The latter category, Bernabe said, could include the county’s social departments as well as the county’s health departments.
While the cannabis program’s state managers are expected to keep city, village, and city governments updated on license applications, Stephen Acquario, director of the New York State Association of Counties, said it would be appropriate to ensure that too Counties in the city are the loop in such matters.
“In fact, the district should also be approached and notified,” said Acquario. Counties now offer many of the public services that could be affected by marijuana legalization, including mental health counseling, social services, and sheriff’s departments.
Acquario said it was advisable for district officials to review their staffing policies regarding substance use. He said counties should also play a role in creating “sensible” rules for growing marijuana at home.
The new state law allows people aged 21 and over to have up to three immature and three mature plants. The law also allows possession of three ounces of marijuana and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate.
Joe Mahoney reports on the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach out to him at [email protected]