In the midst of our state’s fiscal challenges, there is continued speculation that lawmakers could turn to recreational marijuana as a revenue source.
At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we’re not high on this idea.
According to Spectrum News, the state’s current budget deficit is in the neighborhood of $14 billion. The COVID-19 pandemic, together with the restrictions imposed on business due to the pandemic, has wreaked havoc on our state and has caused tax revenues to plummet. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly called for more federal assistance, Congress has not been able to put together a bipartisan aid package in recent months. Politicians seeking revenue raisers are likely hearing the siren song of the marijuana industry, which spent $1 million lobbying the New York State Legislature in 2019. According to unnamed experts, recreational marijuana legislation could yield approximately $300 million in taxes.
Recreational marijuana legalization is a short-sighted and dangerous idea. As Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, points out, legalizing marijuana involves the “‘massive administrative costs’” of creating a new regulatory regime. Dr. Sabet also convincingly argues that “‘the last thing you want to do is encourage something that’s bad for your lungs and your respiratory system during a respiratory pandemic.’” Have recreational marijuana advocates anticipated the additional health costs that the state would incur if it allowed big marijuana to advertise its addictive product here? Have they anticipated the environmental impact of full legalization?
Thankfully, Asm. Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who is an advocate for cannabis commercialization, asserts that the support of 10 more state legislators would be needed to pass a recreational marijuana law. Friends, it’s our job to make sure that those 10 legislators—whoever they may be—resist the pressure to vote for this damaging proposal. Please write your legislators today to tell them that you don’t want recreational marijuana legalized in New York.