In an opening political gambit that puts the GOP between a rock and a hard place, the New York State Democrats announced this week that it officially endorses the full legalization of cannabis.
“The Democratic party is excited about making this a platform resolution,” New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said. “As a lawmaker, we have to make sure that it’s going to be rolled out responsibly, that our roads are going to be safe and that our children are going to be safe.”
The state party’s executive committee passed a resolution calling for legalization on Wednesday, explaining in doing so that millions of dollars of much-needed tax revenues would be added to state coffers if cannabis were taxed like alcohol. The official resolution reads: “The New York State Democratic Committee supports the legalization of marijuana which should be regulated and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.
According to state Democrats, aside from being an astute political move, regulation is “an important social justice issue” and that “millions of peaceful Americans have been arrested, imprisoned, fined, or otherwise needlessly criminalized and stigmatized, potentially for life, because of their use of marijuana.”
The opening salvo puts pressure on the Republican party to reveal its cards on the issue. All polling suggests that maintaining the status quo on prohibition is a failed strategy. If the GOP hopes to make any inroads among state voters, it will be forced to endorse legalization.
“If you’re running statewide, legalization of marijuana is probably a plus for you, because it’s not going to hurt you in the city, it’s not going to kill you in suburbs, and an upstate vote in a Democratic primary for governor is probably not all that important, if you have the first two,” Lawrence Levy, the executive dean at the University of Hofstra’s National Center for Suburban Studies said.
Your move, Republicans.