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The Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act (CRTA) was first proposed in Governor Cuomo’s FY 2020 budget proposal and set the groundwork for legal adult-use cannabis in New York. Despite endorsements from Governor Cuomo and upstate lawmakers, the CRTA ultimately failed due to a lack of support from moderate districts in Westchester and Long Island, as well as a drop off in support from the state assembly who touted their own bill, the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA).
When Governor Cuomo released his proposed law to legalize cannabis for adult-use, critics quickly picked up on the high tax rates - and for good reason. Our analysis shows that these rates are some of the highest in the nation.
In the report, we detail how these rates will affect the pricing of retail cannabis using the 8th ounce as an example. New York would be unique in requiring taxes on almost every level of the supply chain including producers, wholesalers, and retail.
By looking at the successes and failures of other states, we concluded that removing the weight-based taxes levied on cultivators and increasing the taxes on retailers will both decrease final retail prices for consumers while collecting more revenue for the state. Our research shows that consolidating the tax structure to a 25% tax on retailers would save consumers $6.33 per gram and would earn the state government an additional $0.11 per gram.
When the time comes to vote on the CRTA, legislators will need to keep in mind how the tax rates on cannabis will shape the market. A decreased effective tax rate, along with a shifting of the tax burden away from cultivators, will create a far more efficient cannabis marketplace – allowing towns, cities, and counties to reap the full economic benefits adult-use cannabis has to offer.