NY Marijuana Bill Could Generate $1.5B in Big Apple

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Forget medical marijuana. A New York lawmaker wants to skip MMJ entirely and head straight for the legalization of recreational cannabis.

On Wednesday, state Sen. Liz Krueger introduced a proposal to legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and over – a move that one official predicted would generate well over $1.5 billion in New York City alone.

“We have close to a million people who use it on a regular basis. It’s a market of $1.65 billion here in New York City every year, so it makes sense, seeing as so many people are using it on a regular basis, to decriminalize it,” City Comptroller John Liu, who has studied the issue, told CBS New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo immediately rejected the proposal, and his office called it a “non-starter.”

The bill treats marijuana much like alcohol. Only customers 21 and over could purchase marijuana, and people over the age of 18 could legally possess the plant. Communities that did not support marijuana legalization could opt out. Private individuals could grow up to six plants at home.

The state’s Liquor Authority would be in charge of granting licenses for marijuana possession, production, transportation and sale. And the state would impose a $50-per-ounce excise tax on all marijuana sales.

New York State lawmakers have debated several marijuana bills over the years, but the legislation has repeatedly stalled. Earlier this year, a medical marijuana bill cleared the Assembly, however the Senate failed to take it up.

Still, Krueger’s bill is receiving support from other lawmakers. Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried has signed on, telling reporters the state needs a “sensible” tax and regulation model.