Personal possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana has been decriminalized in New York State since 1977. However, law enforcement officers have still arrested hundreds of thousands of people for possessing marijuana “in public view” – particularly people and color – due to a loophole that allows officers to distinguish between public and private personal possession.
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is working to end these racially biased marijuana arrests for good. Because of our work, marijuana arrests have dropped from nearly 51,000 to under 20,000. While arrests have decreased statewide, marijuana arrests are still ruining lives.
Start SMART NY – Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade – is a campaign dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition in New York. The campaign aims to stop the ineffective, racially biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to create a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in racial and economic justice. DPA created this campaign in partnership with groups dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition.
In 2016, New York became the 23rd state to roll out its medical marijuana program. But this is not enough. Patients still struggle to gain access to their medication. The law has been criticized as being one of the most restrictive and burdensome programs in the country.
DPA is dedicated to securing legal access to medical marijuana for patients with chronic and debilitating illnesses in New York State. We convened Compassionate Care New York, a coalition comprised of patients, family members, and doctors that worked to expand medical marijuana legislation in New York.
In 2016, we successfully amended regulations, which now allow nurse practitioners and physician's assistants to certify patients for medical marijuana. We also advocated for chronic pain to be added as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana – a huge victory for patients and boost for the program.