Could marijuana be the key to a saving the subway in NYC?

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More and more states are choosing to legalize marijuana. From health benefits to tax money, each state seems to have their own reason for legalizing recreational use of marijuana. And while New York leaders have strongly opposed marijuana in the past, NYC officials are now looking to the legalization of pot to help save the subway.

New York City's subway is in need of expensive repairs and upgrades. At the beginning of December, a plan was unveiled that offered the possibility of legalizing marijuana and using the tax revenue to fix the subway system. Melissa Mark-Viverito, former City Council speaker and public advocate candidate, announced the four-point plan.

According to Mark-Viverito, "Given the size of New York’s population, the marijuana market here could yield $1.3 billion a year that we can invest in our crumbling MTA, and it's far past time to legalize marijuana — because for years, white New Yorkers have smoked marijuana with no repercussions, while black and brown New Yorkers are arrested."

People in the U.S. face a lot of different health concerns, ranging from minor concerns, like the 75% of Americans who are chronically dehydrated, to larger concerns, the millions of people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Marijuana products can provide relief for a variety of medical problems, which is a big part of why the movement to legalize the plant has gained so much momentum over the past few years. NYC officials may not have health benefits on their minds, but they are exploring all possibilities to get the subway fixed as soon as possible.

In the past, Governor Cuomo had strong negative opinions regarding marijuana, claiming it was a "gateway drug". But his opinions have shifted, especially as neighboring states begin legalization. In fact, a legalization bill is being drafted and it may be introduced in January.

An increase in money could not come soon enough — the subway needs more than $40 billion to properly repair and modernize the system. And while 45% of NYC taxes collected in the 2017 fiscal year were property taxes, this heavy expense calls for even more revenue sources. Gov. Cuomo has even suggested tolling cars entering certain parts of Manhattan.

In the 10 states that have legalized marijuana, state officials are already seeing the benefits. In Colorado alone, marijuana shops brought in $1.5 billion last year, generating $247 million in taxes and fees. This tax money can go right back into the community, like for schools and transportation.

The backlash to legalizing marijuana is slowly but surely dying down. There are certainly more dangerous plants. Because while 85% of people are allergic to poison ivy, no one is allergic to marijuana. Luckily for Big Apple subway riders, the state is generally pretty liberal when it comes to marijuana.

So despite this plan to use pot tax money to fund the subway repairs being theoretical, it's still a big step forward for marijuana users in New York and the state itself.

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