Real estate boom is edging out city’s gas stations

Real estate boom is edging out city’s gas stations

By Ed Zwirn

Published in the New York Post on May 23, 2015. Click here to view the published version.

As the summer driving season begins, motorists looking to gas up anywhere in the city are finding they have fewer places to buy fuel.

The New York metro area lost just over 10 percent of its gas stations during the decade ended in 2013, the most recent year for which detailed US Census data is available. Continue reading

Hundreds vie for just 5 NY medical marijuana licenses

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by Ed Zwirn
Originally published on the NY Post – May 3, 2015. Read the original article here…

The race is on to secure the five licenses to be granted under New York state’s medical marijuana program, which takes effect in January.

And the cash-crop lottery could bring in millions for the winners.

Statewide revenues will likely total $239 million in 2016 and more than $1.2 billion by 2020, according to a report issued by GreenWave Advisors late last year. Continue reading

Legalized cannabis isn’t good business – yet

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by Ed Zwirn
Originally published on the NY Post – April 26, 2015. Read the original article here…

Marijuana has been smokin’ hot lately, with Wall Street trying to tap into the reefer madness with all sorts of funds aimed at businesses in Colorado and Washington state.

That being said, legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis is not the same as making it good business.
Federal law still considers marijuana a Class I drug (with no redeeming medical value), effectively denying marijuana entrepreneurs access to banking and other financial services and forcing them to operate using large sums of cash.
Some 23 states (and the District of Columbia) have passed measures allowing for some degree of legal recreational and/or medicinal cannabis consumption.

In the Big Apple, Mayor de Blasio announced in November that cops would no longer be arresting people caught with 25 grams of pot or less. On the state level, a limited medical marijuana law is set to take effect next year.

In the Senate, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand (along with New Jersey’s Cory Booker and Kentucky’s Rand Paul) have already introduced a bill that would prohibit federal prosecution of state-legal medical marijuana and at the same time allow banks and credit unions to take on marijuana clients without fear of the feds.

But it is probably the tax issue that is proving most daunting to legal marijuana.

The National Cannabis Industry Association, a beltway group that lobbies for the budding pot industry, points out that under the Tax Code, state-legal cannabis cultivators and dispensaries cannot take ordinary business-expense deductions and thus wind up paying effective tax rates of 50 percent to 85 percent.

“The businesses that are getting penalized the most by this provision are the ones that are trying the hardest to do the right thing,“ says NCIA Deputy Director Taylor West.

Under the so-called Small Business Tax Equity Act introduced in the House and Senate on April 16, Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code would be tweaked to allow state-legal cannabis providers to take these deductions.

Significantly, the bill enjoys a degree of backing across the ideological and partisan divide, having garnered three Republican co-sponsors (including New York Rep. Richard Hanna, whose 22nd district includes Utica and Binghamton) and the support of Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform.

Consumer marijuana spending is by definition hard to quantify, the evidence at this point would seem to indicate that Americans spend tens of billions of dollars on cannabis (both legal and illegal) each year.

Matt Karnes of GreenWave Advisors puts that number at “well north of $50 or $60 billion.” According to a report issued by GreenWave late last year, if the weed were to become legalized nationwide, medical use alone would probably come to around $13.5 billion by 2020.
Even in New York, where the state’s so-called Compassionate Care Act will allow for only a limited number of marijuana dispensaries throughout the state, Karnes projects revenues of $239 million for 2016 and more than $1.2 billion by 2020.

Please Note: A chart appearing in the print edition of this article cited GreenWave Advisors as saying that the marijuana market would generate $60 billion in revenues in the first year after legalization. In fact, this number was an estimate of total current marijuana revenues (legal and illegal combined). A report issued by GreenWave Advisors said that the legal retail market would generate $35 billion in 2020, assuming that this is the first year of totally legalized marijuana.

Investors rush to European stock market

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by Ed Zwirn
Originally published on the NY Post – March 7, 2015. Read the original article here…

The “smart money” is apparently betting big on the European stock market.

With the European Central Bank set to kick off its own version of quantitative easing this week, and Greece’s debt problems apparently kicked at least four months down the road, institutional investors have begun beefing up their positions in European equity.
Institutional investors had been wary concerning Europe at the beginning of 2015, but this trend has begun to sharply reverse itself over the past several weeks, with European equity funds taking in well over $4 billion per week for four out of the past five weeks, according to EPFR Global.

Ironically, the biggest beneficiaries of this inflow have been the two “antagonists” of the eurozone crisis, Germany and Greece, with the latter taking in a record amount of investor money in the seven days that ended Feb. 25.

“In the relative scheme of things, there are certainly some short-term opportunities out there,” says EPFR Global’s Cameron Brandt.