BUTTERMANN: Reform Marijuana laws on principles, not politics

LETTER from DAN BUTTERMANN

Reform Marijuana laws
on principles, not politics

To the Editor:

New York is now the 17th state in the union to legalize marijuana. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA, Senate Bill S854A; Assembly Bill A1248) passed with only Democratic
votes – no Republicans voted for it.

The Republicans claim their opposition was because the bill was badly written, and that it will serve as a kind of gateway for marijuana into our state. Marijuana is already here, and is not
going anywhere. According to the Washington Post, 55 million Americans have used marijuana at least once in the last year, and a Pew Research Center Poll found that 67% of Americans favor legalization.

Before moving on though, you should know that I have never tried marijuana and do not plan to now – legal or not. My comments going forward are about the policy and politics related to this legislation.

The Republican conference insists they vote independently, and that Democrats vote in lock step with party leadership. Not true. For this bill, three Democratic Senators and six Assembly Members voted against it. Despite this vote tally, is the push to legalize marijuana really just a Democrat initiative? No. Have Republicans led on this issue? Yes!

Montana just passed a legalization bill too, and their legislature is dominated by Republicans. I suspect our state matches national sentiments, and most New Yorkers favored the change, including Republicans and elected Republican representatives. The problem facing Republican legislators is that they are in the minority and do not get credit like the majority does. If the balance was flipped in New York, I bet Republicans would have led the passage of the MRTA. Public support would have been on their side too. The legislation acts upon the opinion shared by most New Yorkers that a legal framework to regulate and control marijuana is the right way forward. This is not a money grab by the government. The estimated tax revenue will amount to about .001% of the total budget – not a noticeable impact, but there will be a noticeable impact on our state’s ability to prevent access to it. Yes – legalization can help control distribution by using the revenues to support programs that keep it away from minors. I definitely want that to happen.

The Republican vote on this legislation was more a vote opposing the majority than a vote on the bill itself. It is unfortunate that they viewed the bill in this way. Progress is not bound to a party. Progress is bound to the ideas that make our society better, and those that make them happen. Our state still needs more change to bring families and businesses back, especially to Central New York. Next time, let’s hope members from both parties will view proposed legislation on merit and not on party politics.

Dan Buttermann
Oneonta


One thought on “BUTTERMANN: Reform Marijuana laws on principles, not politics

  1. Brian Kelly

    Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide!

    The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

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