Cannabis Tax Revenue Eyed for Universal Basic Income In Rochester, NY

Rochester, New York’s mayor-elect Malik Evans has proposed using cannabis taxes to bolster a universal basic income program for his constituents.

Full story after the jump.

The mayor-elect of Rochester, New York wants to use taxes from adult-use cannabis sales to fund a guaranteed basic income program that would give eligible participants monthly cash payments, Business Insider reports. The city has already approved an income program, but it relies on federal dollars and Malik Evans believes using cannabis tax revenues would be a more sustainable source of funding.

“Community folks told me, ‘this is a big source of revenue, and Black and brown people are prosecuted worse than others because of marijuana.’ …  This is an industry with the potential to make millions of dollars. Everyone wants to start a marijuana business in Rochester.” Evans to Business Insider

In December, the City Council approved a two-year guaranteed basic income pilot program that provides $500 a month to 175 families that live at or below 200% of the federal poverty line. The program will use funds from the American Rescue Plan, according to Spectrum News. Evan has previously said he would approach philanthropists to see whether they could help the city expand the program.

Ithaca, New York, Newark, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, California have approved similar plans, according to the Spectrum report. A similar program is also under consideration in Buffalo, New York’s second-largest city.

Evans’ predecessor, Lovely Warren, had wanted to use cannabis taxes to fund a reparations-oriented universal basic income program.

Earlier this month, Evans launched the Cannabis Preparation Commission, which will set rules and regulations for industry licensing in the city once the state publishes its own policies.

“There are things we can learn that we want to do, and things we want to make sure we absolutely do not do,” he said in a statement to Spectrum News. “We want to make sure that this is available to folks in the community. As it relates to an entrepreneurial perspective. If people are left out especially in the Black and brown communities we will have missed an opportunity.”

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