A Republican candidate for New York governor says he wants to legalize recreational marijuana and use the tax revenue to fix the state's decrepit transportation system.
“Adult use of marijuana can produce revenue for the state that can rebuild the MTA [subway system] and our roads and bridges throughout the state,” candidate Joel Giambra — a former Erie County Executive — said according to an inside source. "Many of our neighboring states now allow for adult use and New York will miss out on billions in revenue and further expand the black market.”
The source added that Giambra will make this policy official by releasing a formal proposal ahead of the Election Day on November 6.
That pitch is strikingly different from the solution offered by incumbent Andrew Cuomo. This week, Governor Cuomo plans to introduce legislation that would increase fees for driving in parts of Manhattan that suffer the most congestion at peak times. He hasn't yet commented on Giambra’s controversial proposal.
Giambra began supporting legalization after reviewing research on the benefits of marijuana and seeing the impact of the nation's opioid epidemic. “As both a cancer survivor and someone who has seen the devastation of opioid addiction, Joel [Giambra] believes, and medical research supports, that prescribing marijuana to ease pain diverts people from becoming addicted to much harder drugs,” the source said.
But Giambra's rivals aren't so open-minded about marijuana. Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who is also vying for the gubernatorial nomination, responded to Giambra's plan by acknowledging the state's transportation problem but rejecting his opponent's solution. “It is a mess, there’s no doubt about it,” he said “But I’m not so sure this is the way to address it.”
We'll have to wait and see whether the Republican base gets on board with Giambra's plan, or the pledge to repeal prohibition derails his campaign.