Politicians are pushing to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, following 10 other states. But the Parent Teacher Association, local health officials and pediatricians are pushing back, warning about the permanent damage to youngsters’ brains caused by weed. If you have children, trust the PTA, not the pols.
Legalization delivers what politicians want most — money and power. They’re salivating over the tax revenue and the authority to dole out licenses to growers and retailers. New Jersey will tax cannabis growers $42 an ounce. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy pledged to make weed legal right after taking office, but he dragged his feet until the legislation guaranteed gubernatorial control over licensing and enforcement. New Jersey lawmakers will vote on it next week.
In New York, Gov. Cuomo initially promised that legalizing weed would be included in the state budget, due later this month. Now political infighting is delaying it. Cuomo wants to control the regulatory apparatus himself, while state lawmakers want to have a hand in the pot, so to speak.
New York plans to tax cannabis products at 22 percent. The Citizen’s Budget Commission says revenue should be “transparently disbursed and utilized for general state operating purposes.” In your dreams.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.