State budgets are getting tighter each year for many, while a select few have been reaping the benefits of legalized marijuana for a couple of years already. When it comes to finding a solution to funding issues, it seems that policymakers’ options are few and far between – with general solutions being to raise taxes or administrative fees to make up the difference.
When presented with possible ways to lower the state’s $4 billion budget deficit, New Yorkers made it clear that they would rather see marijuana legalized and taxed than see another increase in taxes.
A poll was commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance and was conducted by Emerson College. That poll asked New York residents if they would support or oppose different approaches to addressing budget issues – including increasing income tax, increasing sales tax, increasing highway and bridge tolls, cutting education and public service funding, and legalizing marijuana.
Out of all five options, the only one with a majority support was legalizing and taxing marijuana – with 60 percent in favor. This included 71 percent of Independents, 63 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans – meaning not just most residents, but a majority of each party affiliation would support such a measure.
A majority across the board opposed the four alternatives. Only 19 percent would approve of increasing income tax, and only 15 percent agree with increasing sales tax; 27 percent would support increasing highway and bridge tolls and only 16 percent would support cutting funding to education and public services.
“The strong support for legal marijuana use challenges New York elected officials who continue to support ineffective, racially biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana laws. This poll signals that New Yorkers favor using revenue from a legal marijuana market to address our budget deficit and lawmakers would be wise to heed their opinion,” Kassandra Frederique, New York State director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a press release.
New Yorkers are on the same page as most Americans – who have been polled time and time again and shown to be in favor of legalization. This more sensible approach to cannabis law has already proven effective for Colorado as an additional means of taxable income, without raising income or sales tax.
“This should be a wake-up call to lawmakers: New Yorkers want their state to take a sensible, humane approach to marijuana policy,” said Landon Dais, political director of MPP of New York.
The additional tax paid by cannabis businesses and consumers can help close the gap financially for many states. Not to mention the fact that it would come with numerous other benefits, including reducing the overcrowding in jails and courtrooms across the country. Clearly, New Yorkers are paying attention to these benefits and would be happy to see their state among those that benefit from marijuana taxes.