“After decades of unjust arrests, convictions, and communities torn apart by prohibition, New York is finally legalizing marijuana. Most importantly, we are doing it the right way: by centering the communities most harmed by criminalization. Despite frequent talk of racial equity, many states have failed to live up to their promises. While white people have profited off recreational pot, Black and brown people across the country, and here in New York, continue to bear the brunt of the criminalization burden – accounting for more than 93% of marijuana related arrests in New York City last year.
“What’s so remarkable about this painstakingly drafted legislation is that it does not sacrifice social equity for revenue. Instead, it’s responsive to the legacy of the war on drugs that led to the over-policing of Black and brown communities and fueled the mass incarceration crisis. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will remove existing barriers to entry, ensuring that communities historically left out of the cannabis business can take advantage of legalization and actually participate in the sector, including people of color, women, small farmers, and disabled veterans. Equally as important is the automatic expungement element of the bill that will ensure people convicted of marijuana related offenses are able to search for housing, employment, and move on with their lives without a criminal conviction hanging over their head.
“With our state still reeling from the effects of this harrowing pandemic, legalizing marijuana will create jobs and new revenue streams expected to raise millions of dollars a month. Colorado collects over $20 million a month, totaling $387 million in tax revenue in the year 2020. I am proud to have been a supporter of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act long before it was a financial necessity for our state and glad to see it become law. This victory for marijuana justice would not be possible without our steadfast Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, my colleague on the Upper East Side Senator Liz Krueger, and the tireless organizing efforts of advocates like the Drug Policy Alliance, VOCAL-NY, SMART-NY, and many more.”