Press Release

Today in Albany: Mother’s Day Rally for Marijuana Justice

Statewide Coalition of Moms Urge Governor Cuomo and Legislature to Pass Marijuana Justice This Legislative Session

Contact:
Melissa Moore, mmoore@drugpolicy.org, 646-470-2827
Jag Davies, jdavies@drugpolicy.org, 212-613-8035

ALBANY, N.Y. – On Tuesday, May 7, mothers and grandmothers from the Start SMART NY coalition (Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade) from across New York State will convene in the capital to call for marijuana regulation for adult use to address the devastating impact of marijuana prohibition on children and families. 
 
Just days before Mother’s Day, the diverse coalition of mothers and grandmothers will urge legislators to immediately pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S.1527/A.1617) in order to begin responsibly regulating marijuana to better keep young people safe and serve their shared goals of public health, community well-being, and equity in New York. 
 
The mothers and grandmothers gathered in Albany say it’s time to stop the ineffective and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to bring an end once and for all to the ongoing harms that marijuana prohibition causes families – while also reinvesting tax revenue in the communities that have been most harmed.

They specifically call out the failure of decriminalization to protect young people from harsh enforcement of prohibition, highlighting that young people comprise a huge portion of arrests. Statewide in 2018, youth 25 years old and younger accounted for nearly two-thirds (58%) of all low-level marijuana arrests, despite being only one-third (30.9%) of the state population.
 
What: Mother’s Day Rally for Marijuana Justice 
 
When: Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 12:15 pm ET
 
Where: Outside Senate Chambers, 3rd floor
 
Who: Moms from the Start SMART NY coalition (Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade) who are dedicated to the health and safety of children and families
 
Moms from the Start SMART NY coalition call on Governor Cuomo and the legislature to pass responsible marijuana regulation now

The mothers demand that marijuana justice for New York must serve public health, community well-being, and families by:

  • Protecting youth – particularly young people of color, who continue to be disproportionately impacted – by both eliminating a common reason for introduction to the criminal justice system and preventing access to marijuana through a regulated market.
  • Allowing for reality-based conversations and holistic education for young people (similar to comprehensive sex ed), which has proven more effective than abstinence-only frameworks in reducing unhealthy behavior.
  • Encouraging safety and public health through advertising restrictions, stringent quality control, harm reduction options, and public education.
  • Creating tax revenue that will be directed to repairing the harm caused by the war on drugs, school-based prevention efforts, job training, and youth development programming.

Despite New York’s Marihuana Reform Act of 1977 that decriminalized low-level marijuana possession, there have been more than 800,000 arrests made in the last 20 years in the state. 
 
Young people, especially young people of color, comprise a huge portion of these arrests: Statewide in 2018, youth 25 years old and younger accounted for 58% of all low-level marijuana arrests, despite being only 30.9% of the state population.
 
Statewide in 2018, Black and Latinx people comprised 81.3% of all low-level marijuana arrests, despite being 34.5% of the state population.
 
The impact of criminal convictions on educational, employment, and other life opportunities for young people can be severe, even for minor marijuana offenses. The only way to begin to unravel this legacy of disparate impact is to move marijuana into a fully regulated market at the state level.
 
Start SMART NY (Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade) is a campaign to end marijuana prohibition and repair the harms to communities. It is comprised of organizations, advocates, and community members dedicated to criminal justice reform, civil rights, public health, and community members and community-based organizations who support marijuana legalization.

Marijuana Legalization and Regulation
New York