John Liu is sparking up a new proposal to decrease tuition at City University, saying the city could make millions of dollars if it legalized and taxed marijuana. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
John Liu wants the city to light up.
The city comptroller and mayoral candidate wants to legalize marijuana. The proposal comes in a new report given exclusively to NY1.
"By keeping it illegal, you actually encourage more violent crime," Liu said.
Liu said the city can regulate pot, tax it and then use the revenue to halve the tuition at the City University of New York, meaning going to college and smoking pot could go hand in hand.
"Why not regulate and tax it? We can derive $400 million in revenues for the city, use that money to cut CUNY tuition in half and reduce the disparate social impact that's occurring in too many of our communities," Liu said.
Other mayoral candidates to jump on the marijuana wagon include Sal Albanese and Joseph Lhota.
Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, there have been nearly 460,000 misdemeanor marijuana arrests, disproportionately affecting blacks and Hispanics.
Liu's proposal would not allow New Yorkers to light up in public, but it would establish a license for sellers. He says he envisions something like a liquor store license, but instead of going in for a bottle of wine, you go in for a bag of weed.
The proposal would need approval from lawmakers in Albany, where the measure is not likely to spark much support.
"I don't think this proposal, as Mr. Liu has put it forward, is likely to get traction in Albany any time soon," said Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance. "But I do think it's an interesting development."
The mayor's office would not comment on Liu's specific idea, but in the past, Bloomberg has criticized legalizing marijuana.
"I'm told marijuana is much stronger today than it was 20 or 30 years ago," Bloomberg said on his radio show in May.
Liu said he wouldn't know.
"I've never thought of smoking marijuana, and I don't have any plans to do so, certainly when it's illegal and even when it's regulated," he said.