New York Gubernatorial Candidate Wants To Legalize Marijuana

Republican Joel Giambra wants to legalize weed to fix the New York City subway.
New York Gubernatorial Candidate Wants To Legalize Marijuana
The Buffalo News

Millions of workers, students, tourists, and other travelers depend on the New York City subway system every day. But their rides are taking longer, fall behind more often, and many platforms are closing down. In short, the MTA is all but a literal train wreck—and sometimes that, too. Now, the city has to figure out how to fund the massive infrastructure projects necessary to get it back up to speed. And one New York gubernatorial candidate wants to legalize marijuana to do just that.

New York Gubernatorial Candidate Wants To Legalize Marijuana

NYC gubernatorial candidate Joel Giambra doesn’t have the same profile as many pro-pot politicians.

A Republican, Giambra cut his political teeth as an Executive for Erie County. While in office, Giambra’s track record was one of slashing and eliminating public services. He laid off thousands of county employees and was investigated for corruption.

But in 2006, Giambra penned an op-ed for the Buffalo News which criticized the War on Drugs, called for decriminalization, and more research into legalization.

And a year ago, he joined the group New York Grows, which advocates for legal cannabis across New York.

Giambra announced his bid for governor earlier this year. In one of his first statements as a candidate, he said he would legalize marijuana and use the tax revenue to revamp the state’s ailing public transit.

According to the NY Daily News, a source close to Giambra said that “adult use of marijuana can produce revenue for the state that can rebuild the MTA and our roads and bridges throughout the state.”

However, Giambra has yet to issue a formal proposal on his plan.

Yes, a Republican New York gubernatorial candidate wants to legalize marijuana, as unlikely as that sounds. Especially since incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, opposes recreational legalization.

But is Giambra’s plan, the details of which we’ve yet to hear, really a possibility?

Legal weed and a new subway system are both immensely popular issues. They cut across a wide range of demographics and have broad appeal across the political spectrum. Republicans have been seeking to make political inroads into NYC. On the other hand, Giambra could alienate his conservative base statewide.

But what if Giambra is just the candidate for student council president who promises soda from every drinking fountain?

Everyone acknowledges that infrastructure, especially public transportation, is in dire need of repair across the state, and especially in NYC. Still, Cuomo and Giambra’s rival, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, both think existing resources could fund improvements.

Considering the urgency and scale of the work to be done, it’s unclear whether a legal marijuana program could pull in enough tax revenue to find developments in the short and long term.

Waste, inefficiency, and playing politics has contributed to a subway crisis the New York Times called  “long in the making”.

Still, creative solutions exist that can wed cannabis legalization and the public interest in a variety of ways. From funding education to repairing roads, legal weed has quickly become a significant source of city and state revenue in places like Colorado and Oregon.

As the United State’s aging infrastructure continues to crumble through lack of investment, expect to see more candidates like Giambra running on platforms that present legal weed as a panacea to shortfalls in public funds.

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