Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM – The possibility of legalizing recreational marijuana is a controversial topic for many, but some believe it could have a positive economic impact on the state and locally.
Noah Scheuerman manages the Dewey Avenue Smoke Shop in Rochester. He's seen, firsthand, the impact of legalizing marijuana in California.
“There’s so many different parts of the industry that people can be making money from," said Scheuerman.
He worked at a small smoke shop in the Golden State, where he said revenues were high when marijuana was legal on a medical level. After the state legalized it recreationally, Scheuerman said it paved the way for more business related to the industry.
“Once it moved towards full recreational, there became even more of those businesses,” he said. “It was a huge boom in that industry, where people were opening shops. You would literally drive down the street and there would be smoke shops every couple of blocks - almost like corner stores here.”
Brighton Securities Financial Analyst George Conboy believes it could have the same impact here in New York. He said in the 2016-17 fiscal year, the state took in $500,000 on medical marijuana related products.
“It seems likely, if recreational marijuana is legalized, tax revenue would rise markedly,” Conboy said. “My opinion of Albany is they love any source of revenue that can enable more spending.”
Scheuerman said it’s a good thing for new business owners and it could put drug dealers out of business.
“By making it legal, it would be redistributing all of the money currently going toward criminal organizations and moving it to legal entrepreneurs, and there would be a tax revenue on that as well,” he said.
Tom Gregory of Brighton, however, warns legalizing pot could also come at a price.
"Back in the 70s, we knew that marijuana graduated into a hallucinogenic, hallucinogenic into cocaine, cocaine into eventually heroin," said Gregory. “Here we are, complaining about the opioid epidemic, and we’re talking about legalizing marijuana.”
Conboy believes it's likely recreational marijuana could pass as soon as next year.