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AirBnB and marijuana in New York

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At the beginning of January, lawmakers in New York State pre-filed a bill that would see New York join 15 other states in legalizing cannabis. The estimated state tax revenues are $300mm.


Fred Wilson writes that, in February, the Governor of New York included a provision in the State budget that would allow/require AirBnB to collect applicable state and local taxes. The New York State Legislature wants to raise $7bn in new tax revenue in their current budget session, and the estimated revenue from these taxes on AirBnB is $130mm, $45mm of which would go to the State. (The rest would go to New York City and the rest to other counties.)

State legislators, who are friends to the hotel industry and sworn enemies of AirBnB have pushed for the removal of the provision, presumably because it would further legitimize AirB&B. It appears the AirB&B provision is out of the budget. It also remains to be seen whether marijuana is legalized.


My point is not whether marijuana or AirBnB are good or bad, or should or should not be part of the legal economy. My point is that pretending that something is not happening when it clearly is happening is counterproductive or worse.


Prohibition has never worked and it never will. Marijuana did not disappear in New York between 1937, when it was criminalized, and 2021.


Pretending that people don’t spend billions of dollars every year staying in AirBnBs in New York, and collecting taxes accordingly, isn’t exactly prohibition (no one is trying to make AirBnB illegal), but it originates from a similar mentality.


Refusing to acknowledge reality in the hope it might quietly go away is not an effective strategy.



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