Cuomo: Legal Weed Plan a 'Prison-to-Jobs Pipeline’ for Inmates
By Cecily Bapp
Published August 14th, 2016
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing the legalization of recreational marijuana use in the Empire State, and wants to use tax revenues from the drug’s sale to train prisoners to cultivate the crop as part of a new jobs program.
The initiative will appear on the November ballot and, if passed, would be a “colossal source” of revenue for New York, which “can never seem to raise money as fast it spends it,” Cuomo said.
Nate ‘Stoney’ Twitchell, a spokesperson for the pro-pot group Weednow, said that licensing fees coupled with a proposed 15-percent sales tax, could mean a “whopping” $10 million in revenue for New York in the first year.
“Colorado, whose population is so baked it can’t even count, sold an estimated $1 billion — yes, $1 billion with a ‘b’ — in the first year that bud was legal there,” Twitchell said. “New York is the king of commerce — and between the consumption habits of natives and tourists, and a second-to-none promotional campaign — New York will have more tax money than it knows what to do with. Dude! I love New York!”
While more reserved in his enthusiasm, state Comptroller Richard Hempster also gave his stamp of approval to the governor’s plan.
“Recreational marijuana, medicinal marijuana, good old-fashioned wacky tobacky; call it what you will,” said Hempster. “The fact is: It is fiscally irresponsible to ignore the revenue bonanza that is legal marijuana.”
Still, the governor’s desire to dedicate a portion of the revenue to fund marijuana horticultural career and technical programs at state correctional facilities is creating some controversy.
In a speech last week, Cuomo addressed that criticism, as he stirred a tiny crowd with prepared, yet stale, rhetoric.
“For too long, too many of our citizens have been incarcerated for petty offenses involving the sale and distribution of marijuana,” the governor said. “This bill would provide educational services to create a niche and educate inmates to fill that niche: cultivating and servicing the bud industry. I say to you: In this great state of New York, let freedom ring, let’s tax it, and let’s pay for our prisoners to grow dope and become productive citizens.”