New York State Association of Counties pushing for 4 percent tax on adult-use marijuana sales
Friday, March 1, 2019 - 5:29 am

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) is urging the state to increase the local sales tax on recreational marijuana sales from 2 percent to 4 percent, following the existing sales tax model in most counties.

Revenue from this marijuana sales tax would be used to offset county costs associated with legalization, including in St. Lawrence County.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes to impose three taxes on recreational marijuana. The first tax is on the cultivation of cannabis; the second on the sale by a wholesaler to a retail dispensary; and the third is a local 2 percent sales tax.

However, the governor's proposed two percent local revenue share is insufficient for counties to deliver the services their residents rely on to ensure public health and safety, according to NYSAC.

“Under the existing legislation, counties would be expected to provide education, traffic safety enforcement, addiction services, and other programs that have been proven to reduce the adverse effects of other legal psychoactive substances (like alcohol), but with less funding to do so,” the release said.

Lawmakers will soon be debating whether to legalize adult-use marijuana, which was proposed by Gov. Cuomo as part of the 2019-20 executive state budget.

While 10 other states and the District of Columbia have already legalized cannabis for adult use, New York would be the first to do so through the legislative process rather than by voter referendum.

State lawmakers, therefore, have an opportunity to craft legislation that anticipates the consequences of legalization and provides local governments with the resources and flexibility to respond to local needs.