State lawmakers are making a fresh push to legalize pot and expand sports betting, saying tax income from the vices can help fill a gaping budget hole widened by the coronavirus.
Democratic state Sens. Jessica Ramos, Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey — representing Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx & Mount Vernon respectively — teamed up with the Legal Aid Society on Thursday to urge state lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana.
The call cited racial and income inequities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic, but proponents argued that the revenue from sales could help dig New York out of a deficit in this year’s budget more than $13 billion.
“It’s not enough to say the state doesn’t have money. We have to find it,” said Ramos. “I believe legalizing marijuana can help.”
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, a Queens Democrat, dubbed pot legalization “a tricky subject,” but had his own proposal, calling for mobile sports betting.
“Our state is not at the liberty or luxury of declining revenue at this point,” said Addabbo, calling gaming an “easier policy” to push through than legal pot.