Legalized Pot, the Latest Big Idea in NYFree Access

Legalized Pot, the Latest Big Idea in NY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday proposed legalizing recreational marijuana use by early 2019. In a speech packed with other proposals, Cuomo cited the policies and style of FDR, who of course was elected as New York’s governor in 1928 and was then elected president in 1932, and went on to be one of the nation’s greatest leaders in troubled times.

It is true, I think, that criminal penalties for pot use, today, are unwise. Among other reasons, they tend to be disproportionately applied. Lawmakers and others – I expect Cuomo included – are nearly salivating at the potential tax revenue.

Friends, that tax revenue will come with costs, and they will be significant:

The danger will almost certainly be increased on our roadways. Factories and workplaces will potentially be less safe, especially if they do no drug testing. Our communities will see higher social costs and adverse impacts, as Denver, Colorado, is now discovering in one of the early states where pot is now legal. We have spent decades – decades – attacking cigarette smoking. And now we’re running toward marijuana use as some of kind of positive good because why, again?

I can’t square the circle. The benefit is negligible at best. The social and family costs will be big. The tax revenue, in all likelihood, will be frittered away rather than applied to our greatest needs (transit system, anyone?).

On the scale of ideas, this is not an FDR-level idea.

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Across Putnam County, the firetrucks and their firefighter volunteers have been delivering candy canes on Santa runs, the trees are out along Lake Gleneida, restaurants are busy, and everything is thinking of pie. OK, maybe I’m thinking of pie. If you don’t bake, there’s still time, order one.

And also in December, it was on the 15th two years ago we started this adventure, when I took over the Courier and PCNR from the previous owner. My wife, Sheila, and I are grateful for your support, as readers, as advertisers, and even occasional critics. We plan this year to continue expanding and improving our efforts to cover the news, to provide outstanding service to advertisers and to hold government accountable. I welcome your ideas and suggestions. Call me at 845-265-2468, or email me at editor@pcnr.com. Our staff – the Courier and PCNR staff – met for a celebratory luncheon Friday. The mood was happy, even joyous at times. We’re looking forward to year 3.

Until next week.

Douglas Cunningham is editor and publisher of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder in Cold Spring. Letters to the editor are always welcome; limit to 500 words and send by Monday morning.

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