Will New Amsterdam be the new Amsterdam?

Posted on August 14th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

New York cannabisCannabis is a $1.65 billion industry in New York City, according to a report released Aug. 14 by comptroller and mayoral hopeful John Liu, with the potential to become a $1.7 billion industry if it were made legal in the Big Apple. The report is the first official estimate of the city's cannabis market, and the first study to consider the idea of legalization at the municipal level in the nation's biggest city.

Liu's study, headed by his chief economist Frank Braconi, limits the size of New York City's market to those 18 and older, since if cannabis were legalized in the city, it wouldn't be sold to minors. The study finds there are some 6.5 million New Yorkers of age, plus about 900,000 commuters, who in turn have about 600,000 spouses or domestic partners. About 10.4% of all those people, or 830,000, are believed to have smoked cannabis in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Liu's researchers "assume the average marijuana user smokes 5 ounces of marijuana per year," based on estimates in Colorado and Washington state. Based on six different price quotes for cannabis in New York City from High Times—including $420 for an ounce of Strawberry Cough and $350 for Burmese Kush—Liu's office concludes that an ounce goes for about $400. So 830,000 consumers, multiplied by a consumption rate of 5 ounces per person, at a cost of $400 an ounce, brings the figure of $1.65 billion. The report asserts that if cannabis were legalized in New York City but not the surrounding area, that number would go up by 80,000, thanks to tourists and others coming to buy. "If you create a system where there's a legal market in New York City and an illegal market around it, you're kind of changing the incentives around where people purchase," said Braconi. 

Recently, there have been some efforts, led mainly by state senator Liz Krueger, to legalize recreational cannabis in New York state, to little headway. Liu would use the proceeds from legal cannabis sales to fund higher education. (Capital New York, Aug. 14)

Graphic from The Weed Blog


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