JD INSIDER | Weed For Rails
By: Joseph Dimitrov, Esq.
The political issue of legalization of marijuana has become very popular nationwide over the course of the last decade. The federal government has criminalized marijuana use and possession on a national level. However, the federal guidelines can only impact interstate commerce. This means the federal government can regulate all business, including drug trade, crossing state lines. Should a state’s populous and/or its legislature decide that marijuana should be decriminalized within the state, the federal government is powerless to deny it.
In recent months, the newly re-elected governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has announced ‘Weed for Rails.’ This is a new initiative to not only legalize the recreational use of marijuana throughout the State, but use the taxes generated therefrom to help improve New York City’s transit system.
New York’s Department of Health has predicted enormous benefits to the legalization of recreational use outside of taxation. For example, marijuana use can help tackle the current opioid crisis by reducing opioid prescribing and opioid deaths. Moreover, and arguably most importantly, the decriminalization of the drug will drastically reduce the incarceration of minorities throughout the state and ultimately, reduce judicial resources, therefore freeing up the criminal justice system.
The Weed for Rails initiative is designed to create jobs throughout New York and will ultimately boost the economy by a billion dollars. This increase in the state’s revenue is proposed to be used to address infrastructure issues with the New York City transit system. The people of New York rely on trains, subways, and buses to commute throughout all five boroughs daily. With the ongoing issues, more and more New Yorkers find themselves late to work, stranded underground, and frustrated with the powers at large. With Cuomo’s Weed for Rails initiative, these problems could become a thing of the past. In the upcoming year, we’ll see if the city that never sleeps is ready for easier commutes, but for now, they’ll have to rely on their Cups of Joe to keep them up and running.