Sales Revenue of NYS’ Legalized Cannabis Market Below Expectations

The legalization of recreational marijuana two years ago by the New York State legislature was passed with the intent to “create a network of carefully located dispensaries to be safely run by people who had been incarcerated for selling weed in the past.” However, according to estimates by Washington research firm New Frontier Data, most of the approximately $7.5 billion in total sales expected to be generated in New York State this year are taking place “within thousands of unlicensed bodegas, delis and other retailers in the city selling flowers, edibles and extracts,” having the advantage of being cheaper since most of the unlicensed smoke shops aren’t collecting the 13% tax levied on cannabis sales. Additional challenges confronting the opening of legalized dispensaries by ex-offenders is the tightening of financial conditions. In New York City, “it costs up to $2 million upfront” according to insiders, a member of the Cannabis Control Board commenting that “We took people who were the most economically unable to handle the burden of being first.” While it has been suggested that the state should “create an easy and cheap pathway for unregulated delivery services to become legal,” those in opposition point out that” dishing out licenses like that would mean sacrificing the [intended] social-justice goals.”