Meet the members of the Start SMART coalition who are available to speak with media about the campaign to end prohibition in New York. Contact Melissa Moore for interviews with any spokesperson: mmoore@drugpolicy.org or 646-470-2827.


Alyssa Aguilera

Co-Executive Director, VOCAL-NY

“I support the Start SMART NY Campaign because it is time for marijuana prohibition to end. It has played a significant role in devastating low-income communities of color through racially biased enforcement and has often come with steep collateral consequences. We believe it’s time for a new approach and that approach shouldn’t involve criminalizing New York’s most vulnerable populations.”


Juan Cartagena

President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice

“It is time that New York State joins the cadre of progressive states that are acting smart on marijuana regulation. New York City was for many years the marijuana arrest capital of the world and the devastation that has wreaked on people of color and marginalized communities cannot be overstated. We need to pivot and address the pressing needs of regulation while simultaneously eliminating the criminal consequences of marijuana possession and restoring the previous harms that prohibitionist modalities created. In short, we need New York State to help lead a marijuana revolution, because it’s just, it’s rational, and it’s time.”

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Kristin Jordan

Co-Founder, Cannabis Cultural Association

“Ending marijuana prohibition is a SMART choice for New York, because prohibition has come at a disproportionately high cost to our communities of color. Making marijuana legal and regulating it for adult-use will save money that could provide resources necessary to rebuild these communities that have been devastated by mass incarceration and lack of access to opportunities. California and Colorado are using their marijuana tax revenue to rebuild schools and community centers while New York closes them down. Prohibition has to end.”


Doug Greene

Legislative Director, Empire State NORML

“New York State prohibited marijuana for non-medical use in 1927.  In the past 90 years, we’ve reaped the bitter fruit of our great grandparents’ folly–hundreds of thousands of arrests, criminalization of communities of color, the loss of marijuana as a medicine and an explosion of the use of far more toxic drugs. It’s time to start the conversation about how New York SMARTens up to heal the sick, grow opportunities for minorities instead of taking them away and provide safer alternatives to alcohol and opioids. It’s time to end marijuana prohibition in New York State.”


Alisa Wellek

Executive Director, Immigrant Defense Project

“Legalizing marijuana is a SMART choice for New York. For years, prohibition has devastated families, kept communities of color in constant fear, and justified the exclusion and disappearance of our fellow New Yorkers from the country. Because our country’s harsh immigration laws mandate severe punishment for a wide range of drug offenses, New York’s senseless marijuana policies only help Trump's mass deportation agenda. As communities across the state face down an onslaught of abusive ICE raids and criminalization, the moment for New York State to end prohibition is now. It's good policy for immigrants and for all of us."


Kassandra Frederique

New York State Director, Drug Policy Alliance

“Over the last 20 years, more than 800,000 lives were irrevocably harmed by our draconian marijuana arrest policies. As NY finally sheds its embarrassing distinction of being the marijuana arrest capital of the world, we must repair the harms of prohibition and end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young Black and Latino New Yorkers.”


Christopher Alexander

New York Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance

“New York’s marijuana arrest crusade has resulted in significant harms for those who are most vulnerable and has been used as a justification for the hyper-policing of communities of color. Ultimately, the best way to address the disparities and challenges posed by prohibition is to legalize and regulate marijuana in New York.”