On January 18th New York Gov. Kathy Hochul released her proposed 2023 budget and budget legislation. All eyes were poised on how the new governor would budget for the adult-use legalization of marijuana which will go into effect in 2023, and Hochul did not disappoint.
Hochul’s administration expects to see $1.25 billion in cannabis tax revenue over the next five years. Fees from licenses are expected to begin coming in this year, and retail taxes will be expected to start next year.
Hochul, a Democrat, has supported legalized cannabis, and her assuming the governorship from Chris Cuomo has not seemed to slow down the process. The money that recreational cannabis was thought to bring in has been a significant reason for Hochul to offer support. She said in an interview in early 2021, “We need the money.” New York will be getting that money with adult-use recreational sales beginning next year.
Hochul’s budget also laid out the budget on cannabis reform. Freeman Klopott, the spokesperson for New York’s Cannabis Management Office, gave insight into the reform processes, “In just a few short months, we’ve already expanded access to the Medical Cannabis Program, officially launched the Cannabinoid Hemp Program, and have recruited and established a pipeline of top talent to join the rapidly growing Office of Cannabis Management team.”
Hochul had promised a robust social equity fund, and her state budget proposal officially laid out $200 million for that purpose. The fund will provide grants and loans to those with assistance qualifications, including women and minority-owned businesses, disabled veterans, and suffering farmers. People who were disproportionately impacted by old cannabis laws will be helped with the fund opening a cannabis business.
A Democrat state Senator from New York, Jeremy Cooney, also introduced bills that included transgender, gay, lesbian, and non-binary people to the social equity fund.
States’ different social equity programs have been implemented to varying success, and New York hopes to form a substantial fund right out of the gate. Klopott voiced this desire by saying the state wants to implement the social equity fund “as fast as possible while also making sure we do it the right way and create equitable opportunity where other states have failed.”
New York has had a continuously unfolding legalization process, and Hochul’s 2023 budget seems like a tangible finish line to the long road to legalization. Advocates can now envision storefronts selling pre-rolls, edibles, and glass pieces, and the New York government can now picture a substantial revenue stream.
All eyes will be on the Empire State to see if the projected tax stream will meet the $1.25 billion expectation. Supporters of the legislation will be ready to hold the social equity fund accountable, and 2023 is promising to be a revolutionary year for cannabis in New York.