We believe that it is time to stop the ineffective, racially biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition in New York and to create a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry that centers equity, is rooted in racial and economic justice, and reinvests in communities that have been the most harmed by marijuana criminalization.
We must be clear that marijuana legalization is a racial and economic justice issue. That’s why we support the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (s.1527/A.1617).
We’re here to tell the Governor and the Legislature that adult-use cannabis legalization MUST:
- Clear criminal records (either through sealing and vacatur or expungement) and address additional devastating impacts of marijuana prohibition in the fields of immigration, housing, and child welfare
- Ensure an equitable and diverse industry, including having anequity program on day one, supporting farmers and small businesses over large corporations, and providing real banking and capital solutions
- Use revenue from marijuana legalization for restitution to communities that have been most impacted by criminalization
Marijuana legalization is a…
Criminal Justice Reform issue: Legalization will inherently eliminate one of the top misdemeanor arrests from the state’s penal law, but we need to address the harm of prior criminalization.
Legalization must also:
- Clear criminal records, either through sealing and vacatur or expungement, address devastating impacts of prohibition in immigration and family law, and protect against discrimination in housing and employment based on prior marijuana arrest or off-the-clock marijuana use
- Expand resentencing and reclassification of crimes for people previously convicted for marijuana, increasing opportunity for thousands of New Yorkers; and remove a positive marijuana test as justification for violating a person’s parole or probation
- Protect against continued criminalization of youth and help people transition from the illicit to the legal market
Racial and Economic Justice issue: Prohibition and targeted, biased enforcement has devastated communities of color and low-income communities and legalization must be as comprehensive as the damage that has been done throughout the state. Restitution to communities most impacted by marijuana prohibition is just the starting line.
Legalization must also:
- Make revenue available as restitution to communities most harmed by prohibition for job training, economic empowerment, and youth development
- Build an equitable and diverse industry, which means….
- Remove barriers to access like capital requirements and eliminating prohibitions on licensing to people with prior drug convictions
- Ban vertical integration to provide the maximum amount of space for new companies to develop and contribute to a New York–focused market
- Create a social equity program, offering priority licensing for individuals and communities impacted by prohibition, including people impacted by prohibition (living in neighborhoods with high arrests/racial disparities, people with a conviction, and people with an income lower than 80% of the state median income
- Establish a small business incubator program to provide direct support to small-scale operators who are marijuana license holders in the form of legal counseling services, education, small business coaching, compliance assistance, and funding in the form of grants or low- or zero-interest loans.
- Create a licensing structure favorable for small businesses and family-scale farmers, which creates space for entrepreneurial efforts to be launched in small towns and rural areas, as well as disproportionately impacted communities across the state
- Include a microlicense structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, that allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing
- Create a co-op license to encourage and support small farmers and other entrepreneurs for whom access to capital is a barrier
- Allow delivery licenses and social consumption (also called on-site consumption), which provide entry points into the industry that are not as capital-intensive.
- Allow for home cultivation.
The Office of ____________________________________ pledges to support Marijuana Justice in New York: We urge legislators to make the pledge that any system of marijuana legalization address issues of racial and economic justice in New York by clearing criminal records, ensuring an equitable and diverse industry, and using revenue for restitution to communities that have been most impacted by criminalization.