BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gubernatorial candidate Joel Giambra released a report Wednesday outlining the potential economic impact of his proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in New York. The campaign said $500 million per year in new revenue is a conservative estimate.
Under Giambra’s plan the state would institute a 13 percent excise tax, permits and licensing fees for the new industry and a 7 percent state and local sales tax. The chairman of the Le Moyne College economic department, Ted Shepard, who contributed to the research, noted Washington and Colorado bring in a combined $500 million annually and the two states together have less population than New York.
Shepard said the cannabis industry should create 5,000 initial jobs, 25,000 once it’s fully running, plus another 15,000 ancillary positions. Giambra said its time to take those jobs and revenue from the black market.
“How any elected official in New York state, the governor and others, could’ve allowed this to continue over the years, is criminal in and of itself,” he said.
The candidate said the state can leverage the new money into roughly $12 billion in bonding over a seven-year period for upstate infrastructure and New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. According to the report, the plan could create 240,000 direct and indirect temporary construction jobs – 35,000 per year.
The governor, in his State of the State address this year, proposed a task force to study the legalization of marijuana. Giambra said that study should have been done a decade ago.
“We already have a group of experts here today and around the state and around the country, have already studied this,” he said.
Giambra said if elected, he would try to institute the plan as quickly as possible, but acknowledged he may need the legislature to act on a legalization bill. He said once marijuana is legal, he would also move to expunge criminal records and release prisoners incarcerated for related crimes.