Medical marijuana proponents say that licensing fees and taxes could generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new revenues for New York State, which is still reeling from Hurricane Sandy bills, according to the New York Daily News.
“There is a huge amount of revenue here,” state Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, told the paper.
Earlier this month, top Albany lobbyists partnered with Big Marijuana to push for legalization in New York State, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still hesitant to back medicinal pot.
Cuomo said earlier this year that he believes the risks for medicinal marijuana outweigh the benefits, though he also projected that the state’s budget deficit would grow by $1 billion because of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction.
For marijuana opponents, the issue is not money, however.
“It sends a wrong message to the youth of the state, and that’s more important than any amount of revenue the state would take in,” the state’s Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long told the Daily News.
Legalized medicinal marijuana is not only a revenue source, but a humane effort to help those suffering from pain caused by cancer and other illnesses, argues Gabriel Sayegh, state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, adding that “the time for [legalization] has long passed."
New York’s border states, like New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, have already legalized medicinal marijuana use.