EX-MADAM CALLS FOR MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION TO SOLVE FISCAL CRISIS
When I ran for Governor in 2010 as a protest candidate, I advocated the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. My opponent’s cowered. Reporters snickered. As a non-user I made the case for the economic benefits and minimum health risks when compared to alcohol, which is legal and regulated and taxed. I was merely ahead of my time.
On election day 2012 Washington State and Colorado both legalized marijuana for recreational use. President Obama then declared that the prosecution of those who used marijuana in states when it is legal would be a “low priority” for his Administration. We heard this type of thing from Obama in 2008 when he said prosecution of those involved with medicinal marijuana in states were it was legal would be a” low priority”-then unleashed a crack-down on medicinal marijuana in California-far more aggressive than President George W. Bush.
Nonetheless, it is time for New York State, indeed all the states, to consider legalization. In 2010, I compiled a very comprehensive financial report on the benefits of legalizing marijuana, which showed that New York State would raise over $1 Billion in new tax revenue with a total positive economic impact to the state in the potential $15 Billion range.
While Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t quite adopted my views on legalization he has taken on a pro-marijuana approach by supporting the decriminalization of marijuana. Governor Cuomo has even taken a stand against the legislature stating “ No Raise For State Lawmakers Unless “Public View” Marijuana Is Decriminalized”.
Last week Quinnipac released a poll showing that New Yorkers support marijuana legalization by 51% – 44%. New Yorkers want pot and they are making it known.
However, despite rising public support, and support by our current Governor, New York City is STILL marijuana arrest capital of the world. In 2009, when I wrote my financial analysis, the police had arrested over 46,000 people for marijuana possession. In 2011 this number rose to nearly 51,000. That’s 51,000 people bogging down the judicial system, trudging through city precincts, and otherwise diverting the police from more pressing duties. I find this ludicrous and asinine.
Marijuana could be a $15 Billion industry for New Yorkers. Marijuana use is the most promising source of new government revenue in today’s battered and stressed economy. It stands to fill public coffers and plug gaping budget holes, create jobs, unburden our judicial system, and give cops something better to do.
In fact, marijuana could bridge the fall off the fiscal cliff in 2013 and save us from another recession. If we fall off the fiscal cliff the current laws slated for 2013 that would go into effect would devastate our economy. The laws combined higher taxes and spending cuts would reduce the deficit by an estimated $560 billion, however, the policies set to go into effect would cut the GDP by four percentage points, sending the economy into another recession. At the same time, economists predict unemployment would rise by almost a full percentage point, with a loss of about two million jobs.
If marijuana were legal it would mean an estimated net benefit of $65 Billion to taxpayers. Our own government has already admitted the war on drugs has failed and we are spending $500 per second on the fight- over $39 billion annually. We are clogging the jails with non-violent offenders, we are spending millions to try and incarcerate them. We are ruining lives and squandering billions- yet drugs are more available than ever before. So why are we continuing this war?
If I run for Mayor of New York City as the Libertarian Party candidate next year it will be as the only proponent of out-right legalization. I expect all the Democrats running to embrace Gov. Cuomo’s position of decriminalization. Good but not good enough.
Legalizing marijuana is the only alternative that will bring in enough revenue to alleviate our current financial problems. Ironically, this is not a new idea – marijuana was legal here for 200 years and you used to be able to pay your taxes with it.
We should end the prohibition and solve our fiscal problems now.