New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has announced that some of the tax revenue generated by legal cannabis sales and online commerce in the state will be used to help improve New York City's aging subway system.
On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and Governor Cuomo announced a new plan to "transform and fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)." The infrastructure project will generate funds from three main areas. The main source of funds will come from new congestion pricing tolls around the city, which will charge drivers fees based on the current level of traffic on NYC's busiest streets. This money will then be subsidized by tax money generated by the state's new online sales tax and taxes placed on the sale of soon-to-be-legal recreational marijuana."
"Congestion pricing tolls would be supplemented with State and City revenue from a fixed amount of the new internet sales tax derived from sales in New York City, with a growth factor, and a percentage of the State and City revenue from the cannabis excise tax," reads the state's report on the MTA development project.
The report does not include an estimate on just how much money this will generate for the MTA, nor what percentage of marijuana taxes will be directed to the new fund. And while the money can technically be used for any mass-transit-related projects, the report says priority will be given to the "subway system, new signaling, new subway cars, track and car repair, accessibility, buses and bus system improvements and further investments in expanding transit availability to areas in the outer boroughs that have limited mass transit options."
While some are eager to put de Blasio and Cuomo's plan in action, the project also has many detractors. Some advocates for cannabis legalization have voiced their concern around marijuana money being used to fund sectors of the state that have played active roles in persecuting cannabis consumers.
Melissa Moore—New York State Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Alliance—has said cannabis taxes should not go to "entities like the MTA, NYC Housing Authority and Health and Hospitals" because they have "consistently propagated harm and been complicit in the arrest crusade by targeting people who have used marijuana." Instead, she suggests tax revenue should be directed to "people who have been ravaged by over-policing and impacted by other insidious criminalization."
However, the New York lawmakers who helped push legalization forward in the Empire State say there shouldn't be any issues with using some of the new marijuana tax dollars for public infrastructure projects.
"I don't think we should collect all of the cannabis revenue and put it into the MTA," Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D) told Politico. "I totally, adamantly disagree with that, but do I think there's some opportunity to identify a level of resources that can go on a consistent basis that they can use to plan budgets and capital projects, absolutely."
Cuomo had previously revealed his commitment to cannabis legalization while on the campaign trail last spring and released a more-detailed plan on what legalization would look like in January. Last December a panel found that using tax revenues generated by the new regulated cannabis market would be the best way to fix the various problems facing down the NYC subway system.
And most New Yorkers would probably say if they could get legal weed and a better subway system, that's a pretty sweet deal.
h/t Marijuana Moment