NEW YORK — Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Bill S854A, legalizing recreational marijuana and expunging previous marijuana convictions for actions that would be legal under the new law. JustLeadershipUSA President & CEO DeAnna Hoskins issued the following statement:
“The passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act is a necessary and long-overdue step towards addressing the impact of racist drug policies that have historically targeted communities of color, especially Black communities, in New York State. By expunging past marijuana convictions and dedicating a large percentage of tax revenue for community reinvestment grants and social equity for people of color, this bill takes a step toward equal justice for marginalized communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition.
“We know that both white and Black communities use marijuana at about equal rates, but the disparities in drug arrests among Black and brown people have long revealed the racial discrimination within our criminal justice system. Indeed, statewide in the first half of 2019, Black and brown people accounted for three out of four of the people arrested for low-level marijuana – despite being about one-third of the state’s population.
“We applaud the hard work of the Drug Policy Alliance and the advocates who carried this legislation over the finish line, and urge other states to expunge past marijuana convictions and end the racial discrimination that lies at the heart of our country’s marijuana laws.”