Transportation systems have long been an expensive part of any state budget. With marijuana legalization projected to bring in high dollar amounts for states via tax revenue, transportation systems may be one point where the bonus funds are put to good use.
NYU professor Mitchell L. Moss released a report recently on legalizing marijuana in New York state and the benefits to the transit systems if that move is made. Currently, the Subway system in New York City requires repairs in the estimated range of $40 billion, a steep cost that could be somewhat addressed through projected revenue from legalized marijuana. For New York, estimates say that tax revenue from legalized marijuana could be anywhere from $110 million to $428 million each year, considering the current illegal sales for the state range from $1.7 billion to $3.5 billion.
Local officials are throwing their support behind the idea of legalization, some primarily based on this proposed solution to a very real current problem. Proposals in some areas have included tolling major highways in the hope of helping address the wear and tear on those methods of travel. Similar attempts through the subway fees would leave a lot of need and few other methods to resolve it. One suggested method would be enacting tolls on roads in the busiest parts of Manhattan, perhaps effective but not appealing to area travelers.
In light of the fact that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has changed his previously staunch anti-legalization perspective, now may be the right time to legalize for the state. It may help if the panel created to find alternative revenue sources for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority chooses marijuana legalization as one of the most viable of the 12 ideas currently on the table.
Meanwhile, federal legalization is almost an inevitability at this point. Residents in all states of the U.S. will be seeing the struggle lessen and a lot of changes in the way marijuana is perceived in the coming years. Issues for marijuana businesses who cannot find loans or banks to handle their profits and users who face the possibility of losing their jobs – in the states where marijuana is already legalized, will find it easier to move forward once federal prohibition is addressed.