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Proposed ‘Weed for Rails’ Plan Would See Marijuana Tax Dollars Fix the Subway

Image by MTA via Flickr

Dec. 6, 2018 By Laura Hanrahan

As a growing number of state and city leaders support the legalization of recreational marijuana, another New York City political figure has now released a plan to direct some of the potential tax revenue from legalization into the city’s crumbling subway infrastructure.

Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former city council speaker who is now running for the office of public advocate, announced her “Weed for Rails” plan today, which calls for a set of actions that would funnel legalized marijuana revenue to the MTA’s capital program.

The public advocate candidate slammed the current state of the subway system in her announcement, calling it a broken system in crisis.

“Every day when I take the subway, all I can think is: Please let the train be running. Please don’t stop in between stations. Please don’t skip my stop,” she said in a statement. “We deserve leaders who tells them the truth. And the truth is the city’s transportation system is broken—and the governor and the mayor won’t stop pointing fingers for long enough to fix it.”

Mark-Viverito, who has supported the legalization of recreational marijuana since 2014, estimates that New York could generate as much as $1.3 billion each year in tax revenue under her plan.

The “Weed for Rails” program first calls for the continued advocacy of marijuana legalization, which Mark-Viverito says she will do by submitting a memorandum of support once elected to public advocate, among other actions.

She also pledged to advocate for a “lockbox” provision in state legalization legislation that would ensure that no less than half of the billions in generated marijuana tax revenue would be dedicated to public transit.

Her plan also called for expunging the criminal convictions of the thousands of people across the state arrested for using the drug recreationally. Any bill that legalizes marijuana use, she said, must include these provisions.

The fourth and final component of the plan calls for continued programmatic oversight on issues relating to marijuana enforcement.

New York City’s subway system has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world, according to a November 2017 report from the New York Times.

The use of marijuana tax revenue to address the laundry list of problems with public transportation has been informally supported by other local politicians, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

A recent report published by NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management also supported the use of marijuana tax revenue for transportation improvements.

With Democrats now in control of the State Legislature in Albany, the likelihood of legalizing recreational marijuana has improved.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who previously opposed legalization and called marijuana a gateway drug, recently announced that a legalization bill was being drafted and would likely be brought forward during next year’s legislative session.

With the MTA estimating a subway modernization price tag to be around $40 billion, Mark-Viverito is also supporting other tax revenue options such as congestion pricing.

Given the lengthy timeline to implement congestion pricing, however, she believes Weed for Rails is the best choice to generate revenue in the short-term.

If elected, Mark-Viverito plans to immediately demand that the Governor and state lawmakers pass a legalization bill in 2019.

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11 Comments

End the madness

Pay a government bureaucratic service with private business? Just let the MTA go bankrupt!

Reply
James Maxx

Although I do support legalization/regulation/taxation of marijuana, I do not think the MTA should receive a penny through a special tax just for them. In fact, this bloated and inefficient organization already taxes us through the following:

MCTMT metropolitan commuter transportation mobility tax:
https://www.tax.ny.gov/bus/mctmt/default.htm

50-cent taxi fare MTA surcharge
http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/passenger/taxicab_rate.shtml

Here are the other seven sources of taxes the MTA imposes on us:
http://interactive.nydailynews.com/project/mta-funding/

So, on top of our rising tolls and fares I cannot see a justification for adding this ridiculous, short-sighted “weed for rails” tax. There will not be any improvement in service since the MTA cannot budget properly and will just waste it away. The MTA will then beg for more money (usually from us in the form of a “congestion fee”, toll hike or some other hidden charge).

More about how the MTA sucks:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/18/nyregion/new-york-subway-system-failure-delays.html

Reply
Dub

What does weed have to do with the system break down this is been going on long before anyone thought of legalizing weed. That is a joke. Where does all the money go start from there..

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Reply
Joseph

NY Benefits for Legalizing Weed:

– Weed money leaves cartels, gangs, street dealers and goes to legal businesses that create jobs and pay taxes.
– Less people arrested/jailed.
– Additional NY tax revenue of about $1.3 billion a year that can go straight to train repairs/upgrades.
– About $40 million a year in cost savings from less arrests and incarcerations.

Legalize and Regulate!!!!!

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Reply
A.Bundy

then people should sue the mta and the city for their children being exposed to breathing in these drugs and bankrupt both. problem solved.

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Ookami

So are you type that supports crack pcp angel dust? U sound like it i mean really think for a minute and not think like Nixon back then that money can use for mta since they claim that they dont have enough money for recreation of the stations spead throughout the city.

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Reply
Ookami

It’s not for the children so lets get that negetive moment out of that brain of yours 💯💯✊🏿

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