By Emily Drooby
There’s always a scramble to find money for New York’s subways and buses. But a new plan to help fix mass transit with a tax on marijuana is something that’s causing a lot of talk and concern tonight, especially from Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
Bishop DiMarzio said, “We’re looking for trouble because it is a gateway drug for many people.”
Bishop DiMarzio is an outspoken critic of marijuana’s dangers, he’s concerned about the plan to pay for mass transit improvements with a pot tax. He explained, “We have practically stopped people from smoking cigarettes…because we wanted to make them more healthy. Now, because we can tax it, we think it’s going to be good that we have a whole new industry running around marijuana and that people are not going to be stoned when they’re driving their car and have accidents. I don’t see the wisdom in this.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio teaming up to release a 10-point plan on how they will transform the MTA and pay for it. Including raising money through congestion pricing tolls, where people would have to pay more to drive south of 61st street in Manhattan. Those tolls would be supplemented by a new internet sales tax and with quote, “a percentage of the state and city revenue from the cannabis excise tax” referring to the likely, but not yet hammered out, legalization of recreational marijuana in New York, endorsed by both politicians.
They say the money from congestion pricing and the two taxes would fund; new signaling for the subway, new subway cars, subway track and car repair, accessibility, buses and bus system improvements, expanding transit availability to areas with limited mass transit options.
Monsignor Joseph Nugent, who has spent much of his life working with recovering addicts in the Brooklyn Diocese, echoes the Bishop’s concerns over the plan.
Monsignor Nugent, said, “Interestingly enough over the years, the one thing that has surfaced over and over and over again was well I began smoking weed, it was an entrance level drug that led to the destructive cycle, that was destroying families, people and society.”
Monsignor Nugent’s biggest worry, the impact of addiction. He explained, “It’s destroying someone who has been created in the image and the likeness of god, the preciousness the sacredness of our life is being attacked by our own government.”
The tax of course depends on the state legalizing recreational marijuana which is not yet a reality.