Cannabis Industry Urges Lawmakers to Fix Broken Market

The cannabis industry in New York is facing a major problem: the legal market is broken and cannot compete with the illicit market. The legal market, which was supposed to launch in April 2021, has been delayed by the lack of appointments to the Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board, the agencies that are responsible for regulating and overseeing the industry. Without these agencies, the industry cannot obtain licenses, set rules, or collect taxes.

The delay has left the legal market in limbo, while the illicit market continues to thrive and undercut the legal prices. According to a report by the Cannabis Business Association of New York, the illicit market accounts for 80% of the cannabis sales in the state, and generates $4.6 billion in annual revenue. The report also estimates that the state is losing $350 million in tax revenue each year due to the illicit market.

The cannabis industry is frustrated by the situation, and is urging the lawmakers to fix the broken market as soon as possible. The industry argues that the delay is hurting not only the businesses, but also the consumers, the communities, and the state.

The Benefits of the Legal Market

The cannabis industry claims that the legal market would bring many benefits to the state, such as:

  • Creating jobs and economic opportunities: The legal market would create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in economic activity, especially for the small businesses and the social equity applicants, who are supposed to get 50% of the licenses. The legal market would also support the ancillary businesses, such as security, transportation, testing, and packaging.
  • Protecting public health and safety: The legal market would ensure that the cannabis products are tested, labeled, and tracked, and that the consumers are educated and informed about the potency, dosage, and effects of the products. The legal market would also prevent the access of cannabis to minors, and reduce the criminalization and incarceration of cannabis users, especially people of color, who are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
  • Generating tax revenue and social justice: The legal market would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, which would be allocated to various programs and initiatives, such as education, health care, substance abuse prevention, and community reinvestment. The legal market would also promote social justice and equity, by expunging the records of people with past cannabis convictions, and by investing in the communities that have been harmed by the prohibition of cannabis.

The cannabis industry believes that the legal market would be a win-win situation for the state, and that the lawmakers should act quickly to make it a reality.

The Solutions for the Legal Market

The cannabis industry has proposed some solutions for the legal market, such as:

  • Appointing the regulators: The industry urges the governor and the legislature to appoint the members of the Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board as soon as possible, and to empower them to start issuing licenses and setting rules for the industry. The industry also calls for the regulators to be diverse and representative of the stakeholders, and to prioritize the social equity applicants and the small businesses.
  • Streamlining the licensing process: The industry suggests that the licensing process should be simplified and expedited, and that the fees and taxes should be reasonable and affordable. The industry also recommends that the existing medical cannabis operators should be allowed to transition to the adult-use market, and that the local governments should be encouraged to opt-in to the legal market, rather than opt-out.
  • Supporting the industry development: The industry requests that the state should provide more support and resources for the industry development, such as access to banking, financing, insurance, and legal services. The industry also asks that the state should facilitate the research, education, and innovation in the cannabis sector, and that the state should collaborate with the neighboring states and the federal government to harmonize the cannabis policies and regulations.

The cannabis industry hopes that these solutions would help to fix the broken market, and to create a thriving and equitable legal market in New York.

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