Legalize pot — then tax it!

Legalize pot — then tax it!
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

New York just patched a $15-billion deficit with a collections of tax increases and fiscal gimmicks. Every state in the nation is facing deficits as far as the eye can see.

We tax and regulate alcohol and cigarettes already, so the answer to our current fiscal problem lies in legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana as we do alcohol and cigarettes — not in raising taxes on working people.

Marijuana is a $15-billion industry in New York. Marijuana (hemp) was cultivated and farmed by George Washington. The father of our nation was known to take a toke. Benjamin Franklin invented the first blunt. Marijuana has been used for legitimate medicinal purposes for centuries.

California voters are one step ahead of us, and will decide whether full legalization of marijuana — not just “medicinal” marijuana — should be legal in that state.

Some say marijuana “medicates the mood.” What then of Prozac or Paxil? And they are both legal. Yes, marijuana is a sedative in some who require one. But how many stoned drivers kill people each year? Virtually none. Drunk drivers? Tens of thousands.

The idea that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads to heroin addiction is nonsense. If that were true, 60 percent of the population would be drug addicts. Use of marijuana won’t increase with legalization — it is already with us. Marijuana is a harmless herb, and it’s time to legalize it.

Who opposes the legalization of marijuana? Giant pharmaceutical companies that pay lobbyists billions to keep marijuana illegal. Just as the end of Prohibition drove organized crime out of alcohol, legalization of marijuana will drive criminal elements out of the trade.

At a reasonable tax rate, marijuana taxation could yield $2 billion in new revenues. That is money we can use for schools, feeding children and fixing our crumbling cities. I am running as an Independent candidate for the Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand as the candidate of the Anti-Marijuana Prohibition Party.

As a senator, I will introduce legislation that makes marijuana legal in all 50 states.

Vivia Morgan is challenging Kirsten Gillibrand for Senate in New York. Elections to the United States Senate are Nov. 2.