State Senator Liz Krueger Says Cannabis Will Be Boring Once Legal, and That's a Good Thing

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Nov 6, 2019
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New York State Senator Liz Krueger, chair of the New York State Senate Finance Committee and the lead sponsor of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, said that when (not if) cannabis is legalized in the Empire State, there will be an explosion of new legal businesses and jobs, and ultimately marijuana will become just another agricultural product like tomatoes or corn. Presenting the keynote address at the Foundation for Accounting Education's Nov. 6 Cannabis Conference, she said that legalization will happen sooner rather than later.

For one, she said, one of the major hurdles of the legal cannabis trade—the lack of banking services due to federal law⁠—will likely be cleared, given that a federal bill allowing cannabis vendors to work with regulated banks has cleared the House and is expected to pass the Senate soon. 

"So we will not have some of the fairly amusing stories" such as how in California "people are showing up at the San Francisco City Hall or at the state capitol with huge bags of cash, saying, 'I'm here to pay my taxes,' and everyone in the building saying, 'we don't take cash,'" she said. 

Krueger also pointed out the work she's done not only with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, but also with the governors of several other states, who are striving to harmonize state cannabis laws and regulations so that there is consistency across state lines. Governors understand that legalization is only a matter of time, and so it would be best for them to figure these issues out now. In Albany, she said, Governor Cuomo has said he will try to move her bill through the budget again this year, and even if that falls through, as it did last year, she will continue working with her colleagues to get the legislation passed before the end of session in June. When asked what happened the previous year, she said her belief is that the governor just "got cold feet," and that she hoped he would remain resolute this year. 

She encouraged attendees to reach out to her office and that of Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the sponsor of the bill in the Assembly, with ideas and concerns about what the legislation should cover.

If the legislation should pass next year, she said, New York will see new jobs for farmers, for processors, for manufactures, for specialized packagers, for testing labs, for retail dispensaries and even social clubs—all of which will need to pay taxes and hire CPAs to help them do it. At that point, she said, there will still be complicated issues owing to the tension between state and federal law, but as time goes on and eventually the country just decides to legalize completely, the cannabis industry "becomes a really boring discussion." And, she said, that's a good thing. 

"It's just another agricultural product, that's all," she said. "Everybody's hypothetical new plans for new entrepreneurial opportunities becomes just as exciting as corn, tomatoes or soy. ... I'm not of the belief the federal government is prepared to do this at the time, but I do think it's becoming clearer and clearer they won't come after us for having it legal at the state level. There will be banking models, [and] there will be ways for states to coordinate together and come up with smart policies for themselves."

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