ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — The issue of legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana in New York is a big topic of conversation as the state looks to create additional sources of revenue and promote social equity. Two of the Cuomo administration’s top aides for marijuana policy took part in a New York State Bar Association discussion on where the Empire State could be headed when it comes to the topic. 

“New York is sort of still along the threshold of adult use, but I don’t feel like we’re as new anymore just because we’ve done this a few times and we have a plan, and we have a rollout strategy and we have an office,” said Axel Bernabe, Assistant Counsel for Health to the Governor.  

Bernabe was joined by the Director of Cannabis Programs for the New York State Executive Chamber Norman Birenbaum, who also is the president of the Cannabis Regulators Association. CANNRA is an organization to help regulators from different states share ideas and best practices. 

“Right now what we hear from industry more than anything else is that it’s really complicated to be able to deal with all the different regulatory frameworks in every state. So the extent that that makes it smoother and also easier for regulators, I also think it’s a win-win across the board,” said Bernabe. He says New York took notes from California when it came to the creation of a social equity fund proposed in the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act. “It’s a significant piece of the revenue that’s being reinvested to try to repair some of the effects of a really wrong headed war on drugs,” he said. 

Birenbaum also explained the thought process on why the Governor’s proposal includes a wholesale THC-based potency tax rather than weight-based tax. “This creates a far more precise way of valuing and taxing the exact same aspect of the product which is the THC and the market value,” said Birenbaum.

The Governor has said his plan could generate $350 million in revenues for the state.