Billionaire Boys Club in New York City has nothing to do with either cannabis or tax revenue.
It’s actually a boutique clothing store co-founded by music mogul Pharrell Williams. But outside of Albany, it could very well be where New York’s governor and legislators celebrate an enormous financial boon for the state: over $1.25 billion in marijuana tax revenue over the next six years. If that doesn’t make New Yorkers “Happy,” we don’t know what could.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) executive budget was released Tuesday, and the numbers break down as follows: $56 million in revenue for fiscal year 2023 (primarily from licensing fees), $95 million in FY2024, $158 million in FY2025, $245 million in FY2026, $339 million in FY2027, and $363 million in FY2028. These numbers, as suggested in the title, are actually lower than what state analysts initially predicted last year. The state comptroller in May said New York would take in $245 million in marijuana revenue for FY2024, but instead that figure likely comes two years later.
Perhaps even more important than the year-over-year totals themselves is how New York leaders plan to spend those tax dollars, and who they’re empowering to participate in the cash cow. Out of revenue generated from the state’s nine percent excise tax on cannabis, 40 percent of revenue will go to education, 40 percent to community reinvestment, and 20 percent to drug treatment programs. From a separate and additional four percent tax, 25 percent of that will support counties, and the remaining 75 percent will go to cities, towns, and villages that allow marijuana businesses to operate in their jurisdiction.
Gov. Hochul will also see to it that equity applicants—such as people from communities disproportionately impacted by criminalization, distressed farmers, and women- and veterans-owned businesses—get a fair shot at sharing in the profits. She’s pledging $200 million toward a private-public fund specifically for equity applicants and hopes to have at least 50 percent of cannabis business licenses issued to them as well.
A deadline for local municipalities to opt out of allowing legalized cannabis businesses to set up shop within their borders recently expired, further bolstering the impending tax revenue storm. Across New York State, hundreds of locales big and small are poised to usher in an exciting era of safe, responsible, and lucrative marijuana consumption.
Frank Sinatra, a known cannabis user, has always known of New York’s great potential: “If legal weed can make it there, it’ll make it anywhere.”