New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has included cannabis legalization in his 2021 budget, proposing a 20 percent excise tax, a 2 percent locality tax, and cultivation taxes of $1 per gram of flower, $.25 per gram of trim, and $.14 of “wet” cannabis. The governor estimates cannabis taxes would raise $20 million in taxes in 2021 and $63 million in 2022.
“The proposal will administer social equity licensing opportunities, develop an egalitarian adult-use market structure and facilitate market entry through access to capital, technical assistance and incubation of equity entrepreneurs. The proposal will also correct past harms to individuals and communities that have disproportionally been impacted by prohibition.” – The governor’s office in a press release
The plan also calls for New York to work with neighboring states that have yet to legalize cannabis – Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – on packaging, labeling, and advertising rules for cannabis products. Lawmakers from each of those states are considering broad cannabis reforms and the governors have voiced support for legalization.
Cuomo’s plan would create the Office for Cannabis Management, which would administer the industry’s regulations, once promulgated, and would centralize both medical and recreational cannabis operations and oversight. In December, Cuomo hired Norman Birenbaum, the former top cannabis regulator in Rhode Island. Birenbaum is expected to assume the role as head of the OCM once the agency is, officially, created.
Cuomo’s budget also includes a proposal to ban flavored vaping products, vape product advertising “targeted to youth,” vape oils that could carry health risks, and a restriction on buying vape products online, over the phone, and through the mail.
Last year, Cuomo included legalization in his budget bill but legislative leaders pushed for the reforms to be passed the traditional way; ultimately, however, they did not take that step. Lawmakers did approve sweeping decriminalization and expungement reforms in lieu of full legalization.