NEW YORK STATE: Moving cautiously with revenue plans

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Desperate times usually bring desperate measures. That appears to be the direction state Gov. Andrew Cuomo is headed when he begins to unveil his virtual State of the State message today.

Two controversial items, which were announced by Cuomo last week, are being looked at to boost revenues in Albany. Both proposals — legalizing online sports betting and recreational marijuana — have the potential to bring a downside as well. That being said, we urge caution in moving forward on these items.

Kevin Sabet, the president of advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, opposed the legalization of the drug. “In the midst of an unprecedented respiratory pandemic and overdose epidemic, it is a terrible idea to commercialize high potency, dangerous pot products,” said Sabet, a former drug policy adviser to former President Barack Obama.

Online sports betting, with job losses growing in a pandemic, could also be a societal disaster. Those most likely to be hurt in this measure are the ones who are already receiving the state assistance while living in poverty.

These views are not about judging others. It goes to a larger problem of addiction.

Both proposals, which are likely to be a sure bet to increase the state’s bottom line, also have moral drawbacks that may put an added burden on nonprofits agencies and law enforcement. Even if elected state officials allow these items to become law down the road, there needs to be an honest realization that there will be some winners and losers.

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