New York Comptroller Wants to Legalize Marijuana

John Liu
New York Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu: ’It’s economically and socially just to tax it.’ (Buck Ennis)

Lagging behind the other candidates in the mayoral race, New York's comptroller John Liu has proposed a radical plan for taxing and regulating marijuana.

According to a report he commissioned, New Yorkers spend $1.8 billion annually on pot based on an estimate of 900,000 marijuana smokers paying $2,000 for their herbal stashes.

Lui contends that a 20% excise tax and the city's 8.875% sales tax on marijuana would raise $400 million in annual revenues. Add that to a savings of $31 million on law enforcement and court costs if marijuana were legal, and it equals a huge boon for New York's coffers.

"It's economically and socially just to tax it," says Lui. "We can eliminate some of the criminal nature that surrounds the drug and obtain revenue from it."

Lui is currently in fifth place in the latest polls, behind Democrats Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner.

During last night's Democratic candidates debate, Lui was the only hopeful to call for abolishing NYPD's controversial stop and frisk policy, which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Monday.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.