For local town and village officials wringing their hands, trying to decide whether to opt out of issuing licenses for marijuana sales and on-site consumption in their municipalities, we have three words.
Take the money.
It’s not dirty money. As of March 31, recreational marijuana is now legal in New York state for people 21 years or older, just like alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, which are sold in a variety of locations throughout our communities. Marijuana would only be sold at licensed dispensaries.
There will be a 13% tax on sales of marijuana products — giving a 3% cut to municipalities and 1% to counties. That money could be useful when times are tough. And let’s face it, when it comes to funding local government, times are always tough.
We understand that for many elected officials, this decision has become a moral one. Most of those serving were raised in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s — some in the ’90s. We were told that drugs — especially the “gateway drug” of marijuana — were bad. “Just say no,” former first lady Nancy Reagan said during the nation’s War on Drugs. Many upstanding citizens bought into the message. That’s what we taught our kids and grandkids.
But now, government officials are saying marijuana is OK? Not just for medicinal purposes, but for recreation? It sounds ludicrous, but that’s exactly what they’re now saying.
New York was the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The first was Washington state on Dec. 6, 2012, followed by Colorado four days later. Other states followed: Alaska, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine, Vermont, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and New York. That doesn’t include Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Northern Mariana