KINGSTON, N.Y. — A group that supports legalizing recreational marijuana use in New York state says the need for action is more important now than ever because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are currently living through undeniably challenging times,” the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association said in a prepared statement. “As individuals and businesses across the state and country begin to stay at home for an indefinite period, a wave of anxiety is setting in.”
The group also said that “besides the very real dangers of contracting the novel coronavirus, there are unclear economic ramifications” related to the outbreak.
The group said legalizing marijuana could help the job market.
“As we have seen with the explosion of the craft beverage industry, the economic benefit that hundreds of small businesses bring to the state can be enormous,” the association said. “… The creation of an adult-use cannabis industry, according to a study by the Rockefeller Institute, could create 30,000 jobs and generate a total economic impact of $4.1 billion.”
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently estimated the coronavirus crisis could result in up to $7 billion in lost tax revenues for New York.
The cannabis association said marijuana legalization “could, at the very least, dampen the impact with an estimated $1.3 billion in tax revenue for the state and municipalities once the marketplace is up and running.”
State lawmakers have been grappling for more than a year with whether to legalize the adult recreational use of marijuana. A proposal debated in 2019 failed to muster enough support, and prospects for this year are uncertain.
The New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association said fighting the virus “should remain a priority” but also that “lawmakers can and should include adult-use cannabis legalization in the [state’s 2020-21] budget, something New Yorkers overwhelmingly support.”
“When this crisis is over, the significant economic impact will be realized,” the group said. “New Yorkers have an amazing resolve and ingenuity; we will rebound. As we do, the enormous opportunities that will bring jobs, new ventures, investment and tax revenue can be there with a newly created cannabis industry. Right now, we need cannabis legalization.”