New York City Comptroller’s Office: Legalizing Marijuana in NYC Would Yield $431 Million Annually in Savings and Revenue

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 15, 2013

    The regulation and taxation of marijuana for New York City residents age 21 and over would yield an estimated $431 million in annual savings and revenue, according to a report released this week by the New York City Comptroller’s Office. The mission of the Comptroller’s Office is to ensure the financial health of New York City by advising the Mayor, the City Council, and the public of the City’s financial condition.

    The report, entitled “Regulating and Taxing Marijuana: The Fiscal Impact on NYC,” estimates that regulating and taxing the commercial production and retail sales of cannabis to adults would yield an estimated $400 million annually. This figure is based on existing estimates regarding cannabis’ present market price and demand in New York City, as well as by calculating the imposition of an excise tax (on commercial production) and sales tax (on retail sales).

    Authors further estimate that $31 million dollars would be saved annually in eliminating citywide misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests [NY State Penal Law 221.10 — possession of any amount of cannabis in public view], which in recent years have totaled approximately 50,000 arrests per year — largely as a result of law enforcement’s aggressive use of ‘stop-and-frisk’ tactics. Persons arrested are often under age 25 and disproportionately are those of color. Combined, blacks and Hispanics make up 45 percent of marijuana users in New York City, but account for 86 percent of possession arrests, the Comptroller’s report found.

    The Office did not attempt to quantify the broader economic impacts of legalization, including the costs of lost time, work, and other opportunities currently imposed on those arrested. The report’s authors also acknowledged that they did not attempt to quantify the costs of incarceration, which are largely borne by the state, or other secondary fiscal impacts of legalization, such as the positive or negative effects on public health spending.

    Following the release of the study, City Comptroller and Mayoral candidate John Liu spoke out in favor of legalizing the consumption of cannabis by adults, stating: “New York City’s misguided war on marijuana has failed, and its enforcement has damaged far too many lives, especially in minority communities. It’s time for us to implement a responsible alternative. Regulating marijuana would keep thousands of New Yorkers out of the criminal justice system, offer relief to those suffering from a wide range of painful medical conditions, and make our streets safer by sapping the dangerous underground market that targets our children.”

    A summary of the report is available online from the NYC Comptroller’s Office here. The full report is available here.

    50 Responses to “New York City Comptroller’s Office: Legalizing Marijuana in NYC Would Yield $431 Million Annually in Savings and Revenue”

    1. Spencer says:

      I wonder if you legalised pot would most users in New York upgrade to illegal drugs like cocaine and Ice just to carry on doing something illegal?

    2. Anonymous says:

      OK if this is put on Ballot and it’s Voted on….and THE governor does not sign bill ..THEN YOU HAVE TYRANNY IN NY STATE!!!!!! plain and simple!! This is Not Up to the Politicians ANYMORE !! it’s WE the People and MAJORITY RULES!!!

    3. Liz says:

      Come on NYS lets get this legal already & David is right there is more of the state then the city.

    4. Dave says:

      What about the rest of the state?? There IS more to New York than just the city!!!

    5. Julian says:

      @demonhype: Thanks for the addition. It seemed necessary to line up all the evil players on the list, if nothing more so that people like yourself could spotlight the biggest fraudelnt industries I had missed. Forgive me: I’m a general contractor in the state of Texas. I havn’t seen a piss test since they dragged me out of Canyon Lake in my underwear when I was 21 and threw me in the can for my little sister’s weed. Distribution to a minor if I claimed it was hers. Felony. So I gave the property owner from the Army Corps of Engineers the rest of my whiskey, and he dropped charges of tresspassing. What a rebel. Still had my long hair.
      Ironically, I’ve built a new home for some clients a couple of years ago who did criminal backround checks on me and told me “Yeah, we found your mugshot. Arrested for cannabis posession? Oh, we don’t care. So on to our flooring…”
      That’s about the what a dirty piss test for cannabis will be for anyone’s resume pretty soon.

    6. lockedoutofmyshed says:

      demonhype…spot on friend….a huge problem and rarely mentioned it seems. im in a 35 yr job and have been hair tested the last 4 yrs. our private life is violated by the people we work for..we are asked to leave our private life at home yet, we must take our work home each nite..it gets worse every godamm month i work there yet, it is a good job. testing will be the LAST thing they will deal with….

    7. St. Nick and Dime says:

      We have to use righteous anger to cut through the negativity of this anti pot BS. No one minds the ones that actually harm like salvia divinorum. Azna Om. We want to enjoy life in the safety of our house, buying stuff in a store instead of a drug house. We cannot and will not let them win. For Christs sake we need a drug in this negative reality.

    8. Anonymous1 says:

      431 million is being quite skimpy on the estimate. Each department in one state can spend about 2-3 million easily. Considering Parole expenses, court costs, tax revenue lost due to imprisonment, and most importantly, the cost for THC testing. Be it urine, hair, or blood content, merely eliminating the cost for drug testing based strictly on thc would save hundreds of thousands.

      Not only would law enforcement incur this savings, but any city that has allowed public school random testing would also save quite a bit of revenue.

      @Dace Evans, you are absolutely right. Bush Jr’s salary was 250k per year in office but in a single year, he gross incomed over 2 million usd.

    9. JV says:

      The Gov’t won’t allow the legalization of marijuana because all of the money certain people/groups would lose in industries such as; petroleum, energy, pharmacuetical, and timber to name a few.

    10. Demonhype says:

      @Julian: One omission from your list: drug testing companies. Drug testing must be the most prolific violation of our civil rights brought on by the drug war, but for some reason it is also the most invisible and ignored. But the drug testing industry is also a major force behind prohibition, since over 90% of positive tests are for marijuana. In fact, one of the biggest active opponents of the CO and WA laws, one of the biggest forces behind the effort to neutralize those laws, is an ex-DEA agent who–guess what?–just so happens to own a drug testing company.

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