This morning, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his cautious support for marijuana legalization, speaking about the imperative of addressing the criminal records that continue to haunt the more than 700,000 New Yorkers arrested for low-level marijuana possession and highlighting the need for equity programs to encourage diversity in the industry. His statement comes on the heels of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement Monday that he intends to act on marijuana legalization during the first hundred days of his new term.
In addition, with Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes (co-sponsor of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act) as Majority Leader, and Senator Liz Kruger (the bill’s senate sponsor) chairing the Senate Finance Committee, the question is no longer should New York legalize marijuana, but what legalization will look like.
Below is a statement from Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance:
“New York is on the cusp of ending our failed war on marijuana and taking the historic step of legalizing it for adult use. For legalization to be responsive to the landscape of harm done in New York, we absolutely must remove criminal records, implement legalization in a way that ensures equity and diversity, and direct tax revenue from legal sales toward rebuilding the communities hit hardest by marijuana criminalization. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act does all of these things, so New York City and the state legislature have a golden opportunity to get legalization right.”
The Drug Policy Alliance believes marijuana legalization is a social, racial, and economic justice issue, which means New York’s leaders must be responsive to the legacy of harm done in the name of prohibition, while creating an equitable framework for the legalized market.
Last week, the Drug Policy Alliance brought together hundreds of leading experts from around the country to Albany for the Marijuana: Justice, Equity, and Reinvestment conference, which focused on how marijuana legalization in New York presents a unique and much-needed opportunity to create equity, economic justice, and work to restore communities most harmed by mass incarceration and the war on drugs.
The Drug Policy Alliance is currently leading a campaign, Start SMART New York, to legalize marijuana in New York for adult use, with a focus on racial, economic, and social justice.