COVID-19 might not be the only new strain to hit New York.
State lawmakers are making a fresh push to legalize pot and expand sports betting, saying tax income from the vices can help fill a gaping budget hole widened by the coronavirus.
Democratic state Sens. Jessica Ramos, Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey — representing Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx & Mount Vernon respectively — teamed up with the Legal Aid Society on Thursday to urge state lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana.
The call cited racial and income inequities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic, but proponents argued that the revenue from sales could help dig New York out of a deficit in this year’s budget more than $13 billion.
“It’s not enough to say the state doesn’t have money. We have to find it,” said Ramos. “I believe legalizing marijuana can help.”