PUTNAM POSTING: Analyzing Two Significant State Issues

Jennifer Maher | February 2019

In his first state of the state since Democrats took control of both the State Assembly and Senate. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is quickly implementing his vision. Legislation that was stalled in a Republican-controlled State Senate now is likely to pass and the governor is obviously aware of that fact. Two specific proposals that stand out as having potential great impact are legalizing marijuana and closing the loop on Internet sales tax.

Proper taxation of Internet sales is one that many Republicans and Democrats agree on. The additional income will help with the county budget. It is projected to put a lot of money into the state’s hand and will also have a big impact locally. Some also believe that this will help local retailers achieve more of a level playing field, assuming sales tax is a part of the decision process when online shopping, thus returning equilibrium to local economies.

Legalizing marijuana is being extensively discussed. Rumor has it Putnam County is considering a ban on dispensaries. I personally think this would be a huge mistake. I recently attended an informative meeting hosted by one of the 10 companies with a medical marijuana license in New York State, Curaleaf. They have a dispensary in Newburgh plus others in Queens and upstate. Over 50% of their business is comprised of adults over 60 with chronic pain. Nearly everyone in attendance at the event matched that demographic. A companion who suffers from chronic pain met with a doctor online and obtained a medical card in minutes. With selections that have very low THC, I am very curious to see how the card impacts his life.

Every study shows a great effect on local economies that house dispensaries and farms in terms of job creation, sales revenue and even attracting new visitors. The Newburgh Curaleaf location is its busiest location in New York, bringing in extra revenue for that city. None of the available studies show an increase in youth using marijuana in “legal” states. Most states do spend more on social programs and enforcement, but still are enjoying very sizeable net profits. Maybe its time to do the same!

Jennifer Maher
Jennifer Maher is chairwoman of the Putnam County Business Council and currently serves as the vice president of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors.