Just three months ago, Booklyn native and weed entrepreneur Alex Todd griped to Benzinga about how much it “sucks” that recreational cannabis isn’t legal in New York.
“Our whole brand is an East Coast brand that we had to bring over to the West Coast because there’s no availability for us to do it in our hometown,” Todd told me.
The scenario has changed since then. Earlier this week, Bloomberg News reported that a measure to legalize adult-use marijuana could be on the New York Senate floor and ready to be voted upon as early as next week.
“I think it’s amazing,” Todd now says. “It’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time!”
At least one point of contention exists: An excise tax of as much as 3 cents per milligram of THC. Cannabis pros like Todd see it as a tone-deaf misstep on the part of regulators.
Read on to hear his thoughts on the new rules and regulations, and what’s in store for Saucey Farms & Extracts should New York officially change its stance on the plant:
BZ: What are your thoughts on New York legislators fast-tracking adult-use legalization?
A.T.: It’s about time East Coast states as big as New York and as powerful as New York are finally joining legalization. With Saucey being from New York, born and raised, I’m super hype and super excited about the opportunity to bring Saucey to where I’m originally from.
I think it’s very important for New York legislation to get it right in terms of who they let into the industry. Hopefully, they’ll ask for people’s advice who are in the industry, and who have experience, and look at some of the states that are doing it right as opposed to some of the states that are going through difficulties.
The whole point of a regulated market is so people have access to safe medicine, and they don’t have to worry about getting their medicine, or it not being properly tested for bacteria or pesticides and things of that nature.
The most important thing is for the legislators to get it right and to really get the people that should be in the industry, and hopefully not keep them out of the industry.
What about the excise tax of 3 cents per milligram of THC? Is this a misstep on the part of lawmakers?
I agree wholeheartedly with the THC thing being absolutely ridiculous — to tax based off THC just makes absolutely no sense. There are products that are high levels of THC that are subpar to some products. Obviously higher testing for THC doesn’t necessarily mean the product is going to get you more intoxicated. To be quite honest with you, some of the concentrate, like our oil, are upward of 97% THC, so I don’t see how they’re going to be able to normally tax THC percentage. It doesn’t really make much sense. I haven’t seen it done in any market before, so I don’t think that’s something that’s going to work.
An 80-proof Vodka wouldn’t cost more than a 120-proof rum; they aren’t taxed differently. In terms of cannabis, we have to start taxing these products just like they would tax the liquor industry, or other industries like pharmaceuticals, where you don’t compare medicine strength, whether it’s 100-milligram Tylenol or 200 milligram.
You don’t pay more for it in taxes just because of the amount of the active ingredients in these products.
This is politicians trying to get their hands into taxing as much as possible. That’s one of the biggest downfalls for most of these states — just overtaxation. It creates reasons for people to avoid their taxation and try to create black markets and other opportunities, because it’s really hard to turn a profit when you’re really getting taxed from every single angle. To my knowledge, no cannabis professionals were included in drafting the legislation.
As a West Coast brand with East Coast ties, would you have liked to have been consulted on the matter?
Yes, I’ve also been told that there haven’t been people from the industry that are creating the legislation and the rules. I think they’ve said it’s going to take about two years for it to roll out, so hopefully they’ll start incorporating people from the industry: people like us that know the industry and know the benefits and how to make it work.
You know, as far as some of this THC stuff, and the taxation, and how to make it fair for some of the people who are incarcerated for cannabis plants in the state as well.
So the reform aspect I think definitely needs to have a big play with the legislature and hopefully they’ll just turn to us — people in the industry — and ask us for our advice.
We definitely want to be consulted, because we’ve been around the block. We know what works and we know what doesn’t work. There’s a lot of components of getting people involved that are from the weed industry that have been from all aspects of the weed industry.
What changes can we expect from Saucey once New York phases in adult-use?
We’re going to be there on the forefront. We’re trying to figure out as fast as possible to move and to make sure Saucey is there as soon as legalization is there in terms of recreational.
We want to make sure that we’re on the forefront, and as we speak right now, we’re trying to speak to local politicians and trying to figure out the jurisdictions, and figure out the which direction would be the easiest and best route for us to get in the marketplace. But we’re super excited about that.
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