ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The issue of marijuana legalization has been a hot topic in New York. Even more so after the state legalized medical marijuana in 2014 and the first dispensaries opened in 2016.

Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of an Office of Cannabis Management as part of his 2021 State of the State.

When New York legalizes recreational marijuana it will join 16 other states where it is already legal. New York will be the fifth state in the Northeast to legalize recreational pot, according to

States with recreational marijuana laws

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Illinois
  7. Maine
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Michigan
  10. Montana
  11. Nevada
  12. New Jersey
  13. Oregon
  14. South Dakota
  15. Vermont
  16. Washington

Looking at the tax revenue generated in other states that have legalized marijuana, it could be a lucrative source of new revenue for New York.

In Colorado tax revenue has steadily climbed over the past six years. From February to December 2014 the state collected approximately $67.6 million. From January to November 2020 that figure had increased nearly five-fold to $355 million. To date, Colorado has collected almost $1.6 billion in revenue from marijuana sales, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

To put this into perspective, based on information from the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, the state collected approximately $261 million in revenue from the sale of beer, wine, and liquor in 2020.

Colorado has a 10% tax on recreational marijuana. Massachusetts where marijuana was legalized in 2016 with the first dispensaries opening in 2018, has a 20% percent tax. Little more than $1 billion in gross sales has been generated by the sale of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, according to the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, equating to approximately $200 million in tax revenue in two years.

There are 3,105 practitioners allowed to prescribe medical marijuana in the state, according to the New York State Department of Health. More than 134,000 patients are part of New York’s medical marijuana program which only allows solid or semi-solid forms like capsules, tablets, and lozenges.