While Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that a law legalizing recreational marijuana is likely to be passed this year, legislators still have a lot to do before the details of what form legalization will take shape up. The following issues are some of the sticking points that are likely to generate a lot of debate as a law is finalized.
What Role Will Local Governments Play?
You cannot think about legalizing adult-use marijuana without considering how to factor in local governments. It isn’t yet clear whether the law that will be passed will give local authorities any power to accept or refuse recreational cannabis businesses in their jurisdiction. California granted local authorities the right to determine whether retail outlets will operate in their jurisdictions or not.
However, Massachusetts took a different approach and centralized the issuance of retail licenses. Either approach has its own pros and cons. For example, California licensed hundreds of retail outlets while only a handful are so far open in Massachusetts. So, which direction will New York take on this matter?
How Much Tax Will Be Imposed?
The issue of taxes is a major one because taxes are one of the reasons why proponents have been advocating for the legalization of recreational pot across the U.S. However, it is hard to build consensus on what rate should be used to tax recreational marijuana.
While a low rate is attractive and can pile pressure on the black market, it has the downside of potentially failing to raise sufficient revenues to meet the cost of regulating the industry as well as fund other state priorities, such as rebuilding the aging infrastructure.
Conversely, a high tax rate has the potential of generating the target revenues for the state, but will buyers play along? Price-sensitive consumers may find it easier to drive to nearby states for more affordable cannabis, or they may opt for the black market. Then, where will the tax money be spent? Opinions abound on this matter as well.
How Will the Market Be Regulated?
Numerous proposals have been fronted regarding how or more specifically who should oversee the recreational marijuana industry. Some people think that the Department of Health should be in charge since it is already handling medical cannabis. Others are of the opinion that a new body should be built from the ground up just for the recreational market.
Which way this debate finally goes may determine how soon New Yorkers can legally buy recreational marijuana within the state.
Where Will the Cannabis Be Consumed?
It is also not yet clear where and how the recreational cannabis will be consumed. For example, will it be acceptable for adults to smoke a joint in public, or will they be restricted to doing so in the privacy of their homes? Will cannabis cafes similar to what is in Amsterdam be permitted in New York? Will edibles and concentrates be legal as well, or these will be addressed later?
As you can see, the legislators have their work cut out. New Yorkers, and industry players like Choom Holdings Inc. (CSE: CHOO) (OTCQB: CHOOF) as well as ChineseInvestors.com (OTCQB: CIIX) hope that a speedy resolution to all the sticky questions is found so that New Yorkers don’t have to wait for too long before they can access marijuana legally.
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