Former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represented the South Bronx, is running for New York City Public Advocate and today launched a 4-point plan, called Weed for Rails, which calls for the legalization of marijuana and utilize no less than 50% of the tax revenue from its sale to fund much needed improvements to our transit infrastructure.
Based on a report issued by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer earlier this year, there is a potential of $1.3 billion of such tax revenues from marijuana sales on the city and state level.
If Mark-Viverito’s plan were to succeed, this would mean that if this potential is reached, it would provide $650 million to the cash-strapped MTA.
This is a revenue stream that wouldn’t require raising taxes.
At a press conference this morning, as part of Weeds for Rails, Mark-Viverito also called for righting the historical wrongs that communities of color have suffered under the criminalization of marijuana use.
“And it’s far past time to legalize marijuana—because for years, white New Yorkers have smoked marijuana with no repercussions, while black and brown New Yorkers have been arrested.” said Mark-Viverito at today’s press conference.
During the first half of 2018, 93% of all arrests for marijuana possessing were people of color according to The Police Reform Organization Project.
And indeed Mark-Viverito has a strong record on correcting these wrongs. In 2014 as City Council Speaker, she was one of the first elected officials in New York State to publicly call for the legalization of marijuana and also championed and passed the Criminal Justice Reform Act which reduced the number of summonses issued for low-level offenses, yet another system that once impacted communities of color disproportionately.
With the upcoming special election this February for New York City Public Advocate, we strongly believe this is yet another reason why Melissa Mark-Viverito would make the perfect Public Advocate not just for The Bronx but for all of New York City.
You can read the entire 4-point plan here (PDF document).