Press Release  | 03/11/2013

Tuesday: New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus Join Community Groups to Call for Fix to Broken Marijuana Possession Law

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Marijuana Possession is Number One Arrest is New York City and A Top Arrest in State, Leading To Racial Discrepancies, Costing Taxpayers $600 Million Over Last Decade

Governor Cuomo Makes Reform Major Priority in 2013; Caucus and Advocates Urge Legislature to Act

Albany: On Tuesday, March 12th, the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus will gather to push to end the biased and costly practices of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession. They will be joined by dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state to urge passage of Governor Cuomo’s marijuana decriminalization proposal. The proposal, outlined in his 2013 State of the State Address, would decriminalize possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana in public view, but smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor. Fixing the law would help end the practice of arresting tens of thousands of young people per year for possessing marijuana in public view when police demand that someone “empty their pockets “during a stop-and-frisk encounter.

What: Press Conference with Caucus Members, Community Groups, and people impacted by the costly, unlawful, and racially biased marijuana arrests crusade in NY
When: Tuesday, March 12th, 2012 – 2 p.m.
Where: Million Dollar Staircase, Capital Building, Albany, NY
Who: Scheduled to attend: Members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus, advocates from around the state

Background

The reform proposal outlined by Governor Cuomo is supported by dozens of community organizations throughout the state, state legislators, NYC Council and Mayor Bloomberg. Additionally, the reforms are supported by law enforcement leaders from across the state, including NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, all five NYC District Attorneys (Democrat and Republican) and District Attorneys from Long Island, Buffalo, Albany, and police leaders like the Albany Sheriff and Rochester Police Chief. The New York Times, the Daily News, the New York Post, the Syracuse Times-Standard, and the Buffalo News are among the papers that have written editorials in support the of the reform.

The arrest statistics say it all. Approximately 45,000 people were arrested in New York for marijuana possession in 2012 alone; nearly 40,000 of those arrests were in New York City, far exceeding the total marijuana arrests from 1981-1995. The cost to taxpayers was nearly $75 million last year alone, and over $600 million in the last decade, a profound waste of money. With budgets tightening everywhere, legislators and advocates joined together to call for sensible reforms. Fixing the law and standardizing penalties will bring us closer to ending racially discriminatory marijuana arrest practices focusing our limited resources more effectively.

Contact: gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264 or Nantasha Williams 518-455-5327

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