Liu announces proposal to legalize, regulate, tax pot in New York
City Comptroller John Liu unveiled a bold plan Wednesday to decriminalize marijuana in a way he said would benefit all New Yorkers.
At a news conference yesterday, the mayoral candidate proposed decriminalizing and taxing marijuana in the state and using the revenue for higher education.
Liu, who said that he has never smoked pot, said not only is the city wasting money and time prosecuting people for marijuana use but the Big Apple is losing out on revenue.
"It's time to realize the prohibition of marijuana has failed," he said.
Liu's study, which he said took months to formulate, said busting people for smoking pot has led to an unfair racial imbalance. Although blacks and hispanics represent 47% of the pot smokers in the city in 2012, they make up for 86.2% of the marijuana arrests, the report said
Whites, by comparison, represent 42.3% of the marijuana users and 11.2% of the pot arrests, according to the comptroller's office.
"Our policies in New York are broken," Gabriel Sayegh, the state director for the nonprofit group the Drug Policy Alliance, said.
Liu said the state needs to tap into annual $1.65 billion in revenue that illegal marijuana trade generates by taxing and regulating it. He estimated that the state could rake in $400 million annually if it permits New Yorkers 21 and over to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana.
Liu said that money would go do reducing CUNY tuition by 50%. New Yorkers were mixed on the comptroller's proposal.
Andrew Taylor, 23, of Williamsburg, said he didn't think Liu's plan has any real legs but agreed with it, in principle.
"If it's getting taxed and it's going to a good cause, you really can't fault that decision," he said.
It would take approval from the State Legislature and governor to implement Liu's plan. The governor's office didn't return messages for comment and the mayor, has repeatedly spoken against decriminalization.