Some New York lawmakers push legalizing marijuana to help recover from the pandemic

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York legislators should legalize recreational marijuana to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s no secret that the state's budget has been bleeding billions of dollars since the pandemic began, but making recreational marijuana legal in the state would help, according to State Sen. Luis Sepúlveda.

“I’ve look at numbers in Colorado, I've looked at numbers in Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Canada and everywhere that you see there's been a pretty decent increase in revenues are related to marijuana use,”

He says the extra tax revenue could range anywhere from three hundred million to more than a billion dollars

But, Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, doesn't see a financial benefit worth pursuing.

“Marijuana revenue cash is not going to be solving any budget holes,” he said.

He says there's also a misconception about who would profit from legalization.

“It's frankly rich white investors that are already rich and getting richer and, a handful of them are not even that many. Certainly, big tobacco's getting richer, big alcohol's getting richer, this is a great product for them. It’s an alternative product line, it complements their existing product line. But those are the only folks getting rich with this,” he explains.

Sabet also notes the costs of legalizing marijuana can be mounting.

“The startup, administrative costs, regulatory costs, bureaucracy, but there’s also the possibility of increased DUIs. We’ve seen increased impaired driving related to marijuana in states that have legalized, as well as other problems,”

He would rather see the state raise another tax, such as the tax on alcohol.

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