NEW YORK—(ENEWPF)—June 15, 2017. This week a coalition of community advocates led by the Drug Policy Alliance joined Senator Liz Krueger (New York) and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (Buffalo) to announce reintroduction of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA, S.3040-A/A.3506-A), which would authorize recreational use of marijuana. The coalition also announced the launch of the Start SMART NY campaign (SMART stands for Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade).
The new legislation underscores marijuana legalization as a criminal justice reform initiative, as it will eliminate one of the top misdemeanor arrests from the state’s penal law; expand resentencing and reclassification of crimes for people previously convicted for marijuana; and remove a positive marijuana test as justification for violating a person’s parole or probation. It will also address the devastating impacts of marijuana prohibition in the fields of immigration and family law, and protect against discrimination in housing and employment based on a prior marijuana arrest or off-the-clock marijuana use.
Related Material about Legislation:
Albany Times Union
Take next SMART step to ending marijuana prohibition, By: Liz Krueger and Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Commentary, June 12, 2017
When we first drafted and introduced the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in 2013, we knew the fight for marijuana reform in New York had a long way to go.
Marijuana prohibition enforcement was at an all-time high, with more than 50,000 New Yorkers arrested annually statewide for low-level possession. Colorado and Washington state had yet to implement legalization, and very few legislators were willing to publicly support what many believed to be a fringe issue. At that time, New York didn’t even have a medical marijuana program.
New York has made some progress since then, but each step of the way prohibition has limited the effectiveness of piecemeal reforms. The state’s medical marijuana program has proven to be incredibly restrictive and virtually inaccessible to poor people and the middle class. And while low-level marijuana possession arrests have dropped in recent years due to pressure from advocates, the dramatic racial disparities in arrests persist. Last year, more than 80 percent of those arrested for low-level possession were black or Latino.
New York has taken incremental steps to reform its marijuana policies, but as long as prohibition remains, the communities most harmed are people of color and the poor. Since 1996, there have been more than 800,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana in New York, over 700,000 by the NYPD alone.
Meanwhile, we see a bright alternative in the eight states and the District of Columbia that have now ended marijuana prohibition. National support for ending marijuana prohibition stands at 60 percent, and currently 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. can access marijuana legally.
The sky hasn’t fallen in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, California and Washington, D.C., following their implementation of legal marijuana markets. Instead, Colorado is using marijuana tax revenue to build schools — while New York closes them down. We are updating the MRTA because we, too, believe there is a better way.
Marijuana prohibition a drain on state resources that has been ineffective in deterring use, restricting access or promoting public health —goals that are much more achievable under a regulated market. More crucially, prohibition has played an unacceptable role in devastating communities of color and skewing our criminal justice system.
Our revised bill is significant, because it recognizes where we are as a state and a society. It incorporates the lessons other states have learned while still centering the initial goals that we laid out when we first introduced this legislation in 2013: to end the racially biased enforcement of marijuana prohibition and center fairness and equity in our criminal justice system — all while generating millions in revenue to rebuild communities.
We hope New Yorkers will join us in calling for an end to marijuana prohibition by joining the Start SMART campaign to provide Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade here in New York through the new and improved Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. We need to end prohibition and place New York at the forefront of rational drug policy.
State Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, are the co-sponsors of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
Push for legal recreational marijuana in NY renewed by lawmakers, community advocates, June 12, 2017
Legalizing marijuana in NY tried again, By: Joseph Spector, June 12, 2017
Albany Times Union
Advocates make final push for marijuana legalization, By: Matthew Hamilton, June 12, 2017
WBGN (Binghamton NY)
Local politicians debate the push to legalize recreational marijuana in NY, By: Esperanza Gutierrez, June 12, 2017