Smart Approaches to Marijuana New York (SAM New York) President & Co-Founder Dr. Kevin Sabet testified in opposition to a proposal to legalize and commercialize marijuana through the New York State Budget as part of a Joint Legislative Public Hearing.
In his testimony, Dr. Sabet laid out why the proposal to legalize marijuana should be removed from consideration in the budget and abandoned overall:
“First and foremost I’d like to repeat points that have been made by supporters of legalization that make it clear legalizing marijuana is not going to help pull us out of our budget hole. Revenue from marijuana taxes would take several years to materialize and, as we have seen in other states, would be far less than anticipated and wouldn’t come close to covering the associated costs to health and safety.
“Additionally, expanding the marijuana industry into our state would not accomplish social justice and equity. As we have seen in Illinois, the first state to commercialize marijuana through the legislative process, multi-state operators and wealthy, white investors are cornering the market. Similar experiences have been seen across other ‘legal’ states as all told less than two percent of this industry features Black ownership — while stores are disproportionately located in communities of color.
“At the end of the day, our state deserves more than having its leadership wasting precious time on how to best benefit the marijuana industry and its Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and Big Alcohol investors. Representatives here in Albany must be solely focused on helping New Yorkers recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This effort should be removed from the budget. Working with our partners across the education and medical communities, we are confident it will be rejected once again.”