Tourism Could Benefit If New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

New York state is on the verge of legalizing recreational marijuana use, with a vote coming as early as next week, according to NBC News and other major media outlets.

Lawmakers in the state finally came to an agreement on language in the bill that would tax and regulate marijuana for people over the age of 21.

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“I am very proud that we finally have a … bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in a way that foregrounds racial justice, while balancing safety with economic growth, encouraging new small businesses, and significantly diminishing the illegal market,” State Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat, said in a statement. “My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities.”

Left unsaid is that limited legal recreational use of cannabis could be a boost for tourism in the state, particularly New York City, just as it expects to be in Mexico, which legalized cannabis earlier this month.

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And as New York City goes, so goes New York State.

While New York has numerous tourist spots – the Hudson Valley, the Leatherstocking Region, the Finger Lakes, the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Adirondacks and more – New York City is visitor central.

In 2019, nearly 67 million tourists came to NYC; in 2020, the year of the pandemic, the city drew less than 25 million tourists.

There are signs of a resurgence, however.

Hotel occupancy in the Big Apple hit 47 percent for the week of March 7 to March 13 – the highest weekly average since late June, according to STR, a data firm that tracks the hospitality industry.

Adding another reason to visit, such as legal marijuana, could help boost those numbers.

Krueger said lawmakers could take up the bill next week.

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