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During a press conference in Buffalo, New York, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Joel Giambra pitched cannabis legalization tax revenues as a way to address the state’s infrastructure problems, WGRZ2 reports. However, the former Erie County Executive stopped short of offering a plan or an exact tax dollar amount a taxed-and-regulated cannabis industry could offer state coffers.

“I think that legalizing marijuana and using the revenues to create an infrastructure fund to deal with these problems is a much more appropriate way to solve our problems than raising new taxes. … Adult use of marijuana is going to be happening all around us. For New York state not to get serious about ending criminal activity and the black market underground economy makes no sense.” – Giambra, on potential legalization

Republican political strategist Carl Calabrese called Giambra’s plan “a bit surprising” and said that voters might not rank legalization among their top 5 issues.

“I can never remember seeing legalization of drugs or marijuana in particular in the top five. And that’s what really drives voters. They may have plus or minus on certain issues, but if it’s not their core issue, their primary issue that drives them to vote for Candidate A or Candidate B, it doesn’t matter if you make that your key issue. It’s gotta be their key issue, the voter’s key issue.” – Calabrese to WGRZ2

Other potential GOP candidates for governor of the Democratic stronghold include Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and state Sen. John DeFrancisco; however, Giambra’s proposal could appeal to pro-cannabis Democrats who are fed up with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s prohibitionist stance on the issue.

Could New York’s borders push the issue? Last week, members of the state Assembly held a hearing to debate the merits of cannabis legalization. Once Vermont and Canada’s legalization take effect, the state will be surrounded by legalization, save for Connecticut to the east (whose General Assembly is considering reforms), Pennsylvania to the south (a likely long-term holdout), and New Jersey (whose incoming Governor Phil Murphy supports cannabis legalization and a bill has already been introduced in the state to create a taxed and regulated market).

Cuomo does support broad decriminalization, but still believes in the gateway theory.

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