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Last Word – Why New York’s Handful of Medical Marijuana Licenses Really Matter

Sometime soon — maybe as soon as this week — the great state of New York is going to announce “the winners of five lucrative licenses to distribute medical marijuana in New York,” as the Albany Times-Union puts it.

And just why will these licenses be so lucrative? Probably because there are only five of them for a state that is not only home to America’s largest city but has close to 20 million people.

Yes, that’s right — five medical marijuana licenses for some 20 million residents.

No wonder they expect those licenses to be so lucrative.

Plus, New York State has dragged its feet on implementing it’s medical marijuana law. A year after it passed, not a single one of the five licenses has been granted, and no patients in the Empire State in need of medical marijuana has been able to get relief for their condition.

I don’t understand why New York has been dragging its feet on this, especially since one of the companies bidding for a license — PalliaTech Inc — told Capital New York that “the industry could eventually generate more than $1 billion in economic activity for the state over the next 20 years. … (and) the program could generate nearly $100 million annually in state and local tax revenues by 2035.”

This is all pretty speculative, of course, because PalliaTech didn’t say how they arrived at their numbers other than that they reviewed “patient participation in comparable states to gauge how New York’s population could participate in the program over time, and coupled it with the price of medical marijuana in comparable states.”

Even if the numbers getting thrown around are off by 30-50 percent, they still represent a big chunk of money for the state’s coffers.

And that, I think, is going to be the ultimate driver of state and federal marijuana policy — how much money government can reap from taxing the hell out of cannabis.

Full federal legalization probably won’t come about because of the actions of forward-thinking leaders, but instead, will finally arrive when greedy politicians finally wake up to the fact that the Cannabis Industry can generate some pretty substantial coin for the government coffers if the financial and legal shackles get removed.

That’s why the “winners” of New York state’s five medical marijuana licenses will be worth watching closely. If they do well, the government will do well, too.

And, more revenue to the government means more politicians waking up and smelling the cannabis. Maybe they will finally see that it is in everyone’s interest to push for full federal legalization.

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