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Legalizing marijuana: The weed waiting game

“This is not going to happen tomorrow. They are going to have to wait for a while before the money shows up. That’s a fact."

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With New York State on the verge of legalizing adult-use of marijuana, there are all sorts of local government leaders talking aloud on what they might do with their cannabis tax jackpot.

“It could be a combination of infrastructure, community programs, universal basic income potentially. We’re looking at a number of options,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

But Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who negotiated the legalization with Governor Andrew Cuomo, says those what-if conversations on marijuana revenue are fine but, “This is not going to happen tomorrow. They are going to have to wait for a while before the money shows up. That’s a fact.”

How long a wait?

"First, you have to come up with the regulations," said Gretchen Gailey, a cannabis consultant with Panoptic Strategies. "That can generally take up to a year. And before businesses start applying, and applying to get a medical or adult-use license and then get selected. That process takes some time. So, generally, about two years before you start to see the first sale of product."

Another transition which will take time is getting today’s illegal users to buy legal weed.

“It generally takes about a couple of years to be willing to transition and they really need to see that the quality is there,” Gailey said.

The longest waiting period seems to belong to the future pot shop owners in New York. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, normal expense deductions are not available to shop owners.

Gailey is encouraged that a seemingly pot-friendly Congress could now change the designation of marijuana to legal. But without that, Gailey notes in her experience, shops owners have taken eight years or more to become profitable.

    

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