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. AJ says:

      More talk and once again for NY….NO WALK!

    2. andy says:

      The US government spends roughly $20billion a year fighting a war against marijuana, a war against the citizens of this country. With national debt growing out of control and an economy in recession they can not afford to keep this war going. What we are seeing now is their “exit strategy”. Few at the federal level are willing to admit the failings of this war, they know it’s nearly over. More and more at the state and local level will continue to speak out in favor of legalization. The best way to win elections is to support pro-marijuana legislation. This trend will only continue to grow. This war is in it’s death throws. We’ve almost won

    3. Anonymous says:

      The war on drugs is lost !!! It cost more to
      Keep them in prison !!!

    4. David Evans says:

      I have been saying for years, if it is about the money, then marijuana would be legal. NYC has been loosing money at the rate of 431 million dollars a year just to continue marijuana prohibition. Made even dumber since marijuana is decrimilized in New York.

      These are the actions of complusive gambler, you know you can’t make money on betting, that it is a loosing strategy and an embrassment, but you just can’t stop from getting in deeper and deeper. Prohibition, it is a symptom of a mental disorder.

    5. David Evans says:

      What this War on Weed is really all about is Hatred.

    6. seth says:

      they should have included all pot convictions, not just the misdemeanors, because once it’s legal there will be no pot dealers, so in theory they would also save a lot of money incarcerating the thousands of pot dealers in new york…

    7. Cleveland Green says:

      The numbers don’t lie
      Only the crooked politicians.

    8. Demonhype says:

      This is getting so exciting! The legalization effort is like a boulder rolling down the hill at this point! And I was thrilled to find out that a majority of Americans thought what I did–that mj would be legal within the next 5-10 years. Now that the discussion is being held more and more openly, in mainstream median and politics no less, and without shame, fear, or Drug Warrior appeasing qualifiers, it can’t lose! Every day it seems another domino falls to medical marijuana, or to drug law reform, or to open legalization, and every day the squalling from the Drug War profiteers becomes louder and more irrelevant. How sweet! 😀


    9. Owen says:

      The problem with this study is that those who are for the status quo will claim that $431 million is chump change today, because today everything is measured in billions and trillions.

    10. claygooding says:

      The greed of a few industrialists in the 1930’s created the prohibition of cannabis and the greed of the many will end it.