Photo via WIVB-TV
This November, New Yorkers will vote for their next governor, and in doing so, could increase the chances that the Empire State will finally legalize adult-use cannabis. Joel Giambra, one of the candidates for this year's gubernatorial race, has promised that he would make cannabis legalization one of his main priorities if elected. The former Erie County executive argues that revenue from legal weed will help improve the state's infrastructure, bring jobs to the state, and shut down black market drug dealers.
“The money generated from legalizing marijuana would go a long way toward dealing with our state’s crumbling roads and bridges and help with the equally daunting challenge of fixing the broken New York City metropolitan transit system,” Giambra said to WIVB News. “Legalizing the adult use of marijuana is a cornerstone of my campaign for governor. I pledge that if I win election, it will be one of my major priorities because of the immediate economic benefits it can produce.”
Giambra claims that a cannabis excise tax of 13 percent, in addition to state and local taxes, would bring the state $500 million a year, according to new research that he commissioned. The candidate added that investing this money could bring additional jobs to the state, as every $1 billion spent on infrastructure would create 13,000 new jobs. “This is a plan to rebuild New York without continuing to raise taxes,” said Giambra. “There’s another billion dollars in taxes and fees already projected in the Albany pipeline this year to deal with a deficit estimated of at least $4.4 billion. I think the citizens have had enough.”
A recent poll has found that over 60% of New York voters support legalizing recreational cannabis sales and use — a vocal majority that Giambra believes will support his campaign for legalization. Earlier this year, the candidate told MERRY JANE that he thinks “the majority of people believe that it makes no sense to continue to ignore that marijuana is part of our culture … and that's why I believe that ending the black market economy, and controlling and regulating marijuana, makes a lot more sense than the unregulated criminal environment that exists.”
Although current Governor Andrew Cuomo and numerous state legislators have long opposed legalization, maintaining 20th century prohibition laws makes less and less sense for the Empire State. Legal cannabis will go on sale in Canada and Massachusetts this year, and possibly also in New Jersey, if Gov. Phil Murphy succeeds in his push for legalizing pot in the Garden State. Undoubtedly, some of this legal weed will end up across the border in New York's black market, increasing the pressure on the state to provide a legal, regulated alternative.
Giambra, who told MERRY JANE that he was a “pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican,” has recently switched his party affiliation and is now running as an independent. Gov. Cuomo is up for re-election this year, and while he still has a good chance at winning again, voters' support for cannabis reform may lead them to consider alternatives to the current establishment.